EPB's fiber optic network generated $2.69 billion in economic benefits in the past decade, study shows

Staff file photo / Service technicians Stacy Mann, left, and Nathen Lloyd step out of an EPB trailer with a newly installed fiber optics cable during an installation at CityGreen Apartments in Chattanooga's North Shore area in 2016.

The high-speed broadband network built by Chattanooga's electric utility has generated nearly $2.7 billion in economic benefits since it was built more than a decade ago, according to a new economic analysis released Friday.

EPB's fiber optics system, which EPB launched in 2009 with the assistance of a $111.7 million federal stimulus grant during the Great Recession, has helped generate an estimated 9,516 jobs and has lured an extra $244 million in business ventures using the fiber-optic network, according to a study by University of Tennessee at Chattanooga Economist Bento Lobo. The study also estimates that Chattanooga has helped attract $110 million in research projects and saved businesses $260 million in improved power reliability from 2010 through 2020.

EPB originally built its fiber-optic network to create a smart grid to improve its electric service and over the past 10 years the smart grid has helped reduce power outages from 40% to 55% a year.