EPB, Chattanooga’s electric power distributor and a communications provider, and Alcatel-Lucent have teamed to ultimately provide energy management options to customers throughout the region by developing techniques to help analyze energy usage at unprecedented levels of detail.

EPB operates a high-speed optical fiber network – powered by Alcatel-Lucent’s gigabit passive optical network (GPON) technology – that offers broadband Internet access and other services to over 170,000 homes and businesses in metropolitan Chattanooga and surrounding rural areas. (For more, see Chattanooga Leads The Charge For Fast Internet).

EPB now is building an advanced and automated smart grid network. With widescale deployment of sensors and control devices at locations throughout the grid, coupled with pervasive broadband communications, the smart grid network will provide the utility the ability to measure, monitor and control its electricity distribution network in real time at fine levels of detail.

Alcatel-Lucent’s Bell Labs is developing advanced analytical techniques and tools to help EPB even further mine the wealth of information from smart meters, Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) systems and other data to help reduce electric service outages, help EPB’s customers manage energy costs, manage power consumption during peak consumption periods, and improve operational efficiencies.

"With today’s power grid infrastructure model, most electric power customers pay one rate per kilowatt hour – regardless of when the power was generated. But the cost to generate power can vary from time of day, time of week, and time of year. Plus, today’s electric meters can give us only limited after-the-fact information," said Harold DePriest, president and CEO of EPB, in a statement. "Our Smart Grid is intended to not only provide customers the ability to better manage their energy use, but also alert us, and the user, in real time to any spikes in usage, so that immediate action can be taken if there is a problem within a home or business."

The Bell Labs-developed analytical techniques will allow EPB to:

  • Detect and fix anomalies in their distribution grid before they affect their customers’ electric service;
  • More efficiently manage the power purchases from their energy supplier (Tennessee Valley Authority) during peak and off peak hours, resulting in savings that EPB can pass along to its customers; and  
  • Offer its customers value added energy management services to help their customers better manage energy costs.

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