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Staff Photo by Robin Rudd/ During the EPB Green Expo, at Miller Plaza's Waterhouse Pavilion, it was announced that the EPB building will be one of the first LEED Gold buildings in Chattanooga. The Expo took place on November 8, 2019.

EPB is buying 17 acres near the Volkswagen plant to build a more centrally located operations center.

Directors of the city-owned utility on Friday authorized buying the vacant site in the Enterprise South Industrial Park to relocate and expand the operations facility that has been housed since 2010 at the former Cavalier site under the M.L. King bridge off of Central Avenue. EPB Chief Financial Officer Greg Eaves said he expects it will cost about $8 million to erect a new facility to house EPB trucks, poles, spools, transformers, tools and other equipment used to build and maintain EPB's 600-square-mile electric and fiber optic network.

"We're busting at the seams at our current site and need more room and this location, just off Interstate 75, is well located to serve more of our overall territory," Eaves said. "This is a real good location and the gas and time we save dispatching trucks from this site will do a lot to pay for this facility."

(Read more: EPB's Chattanooga headquarters becomes first existing building to land 'Gold' energy certification)

The new operations center site is near the Tennessee Department of Transportation Region 2 office and the Erlanger Primary Care facility on Volkswagen Drive and EPB will purchase the property from the Industrial Development Board of Chattanooga, which owns and controls the remaining land at Enterprise South.

"As soon as we can secure the land, we'll start developing our plans," he said.

EPB, which is headquartered in the 900 block of Market Street downtown, maintains its control facilities for both its electric and fiber optic systems at its complex at Oak and Greenwood streets near Holtzclaw Avenue.

EPB purchased the 11-acre facility that once housed the Cavalier Corp. in 2010 for its operations center. EPB spent about $8 million for the property, renovations and new facilities, but the new site would replace that complex.

Eaves noted that when the existing operations center was built, EPB did not anticipate providing as many and as much internet and other fiber optic technology use as it ultimately developed for both its power and telecommunications services.

Contact Dave Flessner at dflessner@timesfreepress.com or at 423-757-6340.

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