ADDING MORE FIBER
EPB directors on Friday were updated on the status of the utility's fiber optic network:
• EPB performed the last of 378,000 fiber splices two years ahead of schedule.
• EPB's fiber division is up to 24,800 customers.
• The company recently upped its minimum Internet speed to 30 megabits per second, from 15 megabits previous.
• The video and Internet division had sales of $2.86 million in February 2011 and $17.5 million for the fiscal year.
A storm that left just over 60,000 customers without power on Feb. 28 may have been the costliest in Chattanooga history, according to EPB.
Damage done by this year's storm cost about $4.5 million, compared to an inflation-adjusted $3.7 million spent during the blizzard of 1993, according to EPB spokeswoman Lacie Newton.
The figure includes the cost of 125 wrecked telephone poles, 118 transformers and 475 repairmen working for three 24-hour days, according to David Wade, EPB's executive vice president and chief operating officer.
"The storm did an incredible amount of damage," he said.
By comparison, only 87 poles were broken, in 1993, though the deep snow caused repairs to drag on for eight days, he said.
Telephone poles are priced at about $400 each, but adding in the wires, labor and equipment costs EPB an average of $2,000 per pole. Transformers each cost from $500 up to hundreds of thousands of dollars.
"We used eight months of equipment in three days," Wade said.
Though EPB spent millions fixing storm damage, it could receive a benefit not available to most private companies: direct federal disaster aid.
The public utility could benefit from Federal Emergency Management Agency disaster funds to pay up to 70 percent of EPB's storm expenses, board members said Friday. FEMA will likely decide whether or not to cover relief and repair efforts in the region within three weeks, Newton said, though any reimbursement could take several months.