Chattanooga's EPB takes quantum leap with test of new cybersecurity system

Staff photo by Tim Barber / Oak Ridge National Laboratory Quantum Information Science Group Leader Nicholas Peters sits at a computer Thursday inside EPB's Control Center Conference Room in Chattanooga, March 5, 2020.

The Chattanooga utility that started the first Gig internet service in the Western Hemisphere using its fiber optic network is now using that same fiber backbone to pioneer a new method of cybersecurity that could literally be a quantum leap ahead of any other utility in North America.

EPB on Thursday hosted top researchers in quantum physics from both the Los Alamos National Laboratory and the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in a test of a new type of cybersecurity control network regarded as far safer and less vulnerable to cyberattacks than any existing controls. The new CEDS (Cybersecurity for Energy Delivery Systems) system uses quantum technology to encrypt messages sent along EPB's smart grid and was tested along a 21-kilometer route on Thursday.

"This is probably the most advanced quantum network in the country, especially considering that this is in a real utility environment," said Nicholas Peters, group leader for the Quantum Science Research Group at ORNL who first came to EPB four years ago as part of EPB's Engineer Scholars program.