A judge in Nashville said Friday she will rule next week whether to allow a cable trade organization’s lawsuit against EPB to be reinstated.
Davidson County Chancellor Ellen Hobbs Lyle on April 14 dismissed the lawsuit filed by the Tennessee Cable Telecommunications Association trying to prevent EPB from offering fiber to the home.
She said she would consider the group’s request to reinstate the lawsuit and make a decision by next Friday.
Since Chancellor Lyle dismissed the lawsuit, Stacey B. Briggs, president and executive director of the cable group, said she submitted a business plan for EPB’s $219.8 million bond issue that shows the utility is cross-subsidizing its cable initiative.
Ms. Briggs said the bond issue is more than two times larger than any other in the history of Chattanooga and is being funded with rate-payer money.
“We believe this is a cross-subsidy and a clear violation of state law,” Ms. Briggs said.
Aldous McCrory, vice president of legal services for EPB, has said he is disappointed the cable group is attempting to delay EPB’s fiber-optic plan.
He disagreed with the cable group’s theory the plan is a cross-subsidy claiming that the business plan actually shows the smart grid and the fiber-optic plans are separate projects and that proceeds from the bond will be used to improve the electric system.
Ms. Briggs said the initial lawsuit was dismissed on procedural grounds and should be reinstated.
“We are hopeful that this will ease the stalemate and move us closer to resolving this case on its merits,” she said.
Lacy Newton, spokeswoman for EPB, said the utility’s legal counsel argued Friday why they feel the judge was correct when dismissing the lawsuit.
EPB obtained the bond proceeds to install fiber-optic lines to enhance the electric system, also known as a smart grid. The smart grid is an electric command and control system that EPB officials said is efficient and can serve as the backbone for cable television, Internet and telephone service.
Utility officials have said cable television and other services could be available to some area residents by the end of the year.