EPB customers who opt for cable television could start having fiber-optic lines installed in their homes by late May.
The distributor's board Friday approved contracts totaling $9.4 million. Letters of intent are being sent to businesses that will install the fiber, and contracts could be signed in about two weeks, according to EPB.
Some contractors will install fiber from power poles or underground utilities to control boxes on the side of the house, while other contractors will install fiber wiring inside.
Soon thereafter, consumers could start receiving cable service.
The smart grid conserves electricity and saves money, according to EPB. The grid allows for faster resumption of power in an outage. On Friday, about 10,000 customers' power was restored in less than a minute thanks to the technology.
According to EPB, two contractors which will participate are local companies AP&L and CIB Enterprises LLC. Outside contractors include Adesta and Fiber Technologies.
CIB will install fiber inside residences, said Katie Espeseth, vice president of EPB's telecommunications division. CIB has been doing small jobs with EPB, but nothing on this scale, she said.
CIB is doing two types of work for EPB, said owner Charles Bass. The company is replacing old meters for EPB, and it also is doing traffic control to keep safe EPB staff working alongside roads, he said.
Soon, though, CIB will install fiber cables throughout homes for video, Internet and telephone service, he said. The company will grow from 18 to 28 workers because of the EPB contract, Mr. Bass said.
Officials recently said North Chattanooga, Highland Park, Alton Park, Red Bank and East Ridge will be among the first areas to receive fiber to the home. It will take up to five years to offer telecommunications service to everyone in EPB's service area.
EPB officials also that storms that blew through the area Friday resulted in the loss of power to about 24,000 customers. The power was restored by about 5 a.m. on Easter, said David Wade, senior vice president of the electric system.
That total does not include about 10,000 customers whose service was automatically restored in less than a minute by the smart grid, he said. Those customers were in the northwest part of Hamilton County, Mr. Wade said. The power was restored by computerized rerouting of electricity.
EPB is installing automated control and communications equipment throughout the electric system in the smart grid upgrade.
The effort includes the installation of fiber-optic cables throughout the electric network. The smart grid is expected to save $300 million in operational efficiencies, EPB officials have said, as well as help restore power quickly after outages.