Economic Study Documents $2.69 billion in Benefit from Chattanooga’s Community Fiber Optic Network
A new study conducted by Bento Lobo, Ph.D., head of the Department of Finance and Economics at the Rollins College of Business at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, documents $2.69 billion in community benefit during the first ten years since EPB of Chattanooga built Amerca's first Gig-speed community-wide network and used it to establish the nation’s most advanced smart grid power distribution system. Key Community Benefits from Chattanooga’s Advanced Infrastructure:
- Job creation and retention: The fiber optic infrastructure directly supported the creation and retention of 9,516 jobs which is about 40% of all jobs created in Hamilton County during the study period.
- Lower unemployment rate: Hamilton County’s unemployment rate was 4.7% in Nov which is significantly lower than Tennessee’s rate (5.3%) and two percentage points lower than the US unemployment rate (6.7%) for the same period.
- Bridging the digital divide for education: Having Chattanooga’s fiber optic network in place allowed EPB to join with Hamilton County Schools and other local and state partners in launching HCS EdConnect, a fiber optic broadband internet service provided at no charge to economically challenged families with K-12 students. Designed to continue providing the service for at least 10 years, HCS EdConnect represents a lasting solution for bridging the digital divide among students. Currently more than 12,000 students have internet access to continue their studies from home through HCS EdConnect.
- Reduced power outages: Related to the smart grid’s ability to quickly re-route power around storm damage and other problems, the study documents a 40-55% annual decrease in outage minutes providing EPB customers with an average of $26.6 million in savings each year by helping them avoid spoilage, lost productivity, and other negative impacts.
- Decreased environmental damage: The smart grid has helped EPB decrease carbon emissions by 7,900 tons through demand management and reduced truck-miles.
- $110 million in Smart City research: In 2014, the U.S. Department of Energy designated Chattanooga as a Smart Grid Living Laboratory. Since then, EPB has partnered with Oak Ridge National Laboratory and a range of other national and local research partners, like the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga Center for Urban Informatics and Progress, to play a significant role in more than $110 million in Smart City Research.
New Economic Study Documents $2.69 billion in Benefit from Chattanooga’s Community Fiber Optic Network Read the Study