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File photo / Vicky Gregg

Vicky Gregg, the former CEO of BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee who has served on the EPB board since 2006, was elected chair of the city-owned utility Friday.

Gregg becomes the 12th chair of EPB in its 82-year history and the first female chair ever of the utility's board. She succeeds the late Warren Logan Jr., the former president of the Chattanooga Area Urban League who died in January after serving as EPB's first Black chairman.

Gregg was previously vice chair of the 5-member Electric Power Board and has served on the EPB board as the electric utility has diversified to also become the first provider of citywide high-speed broadband service in the country.

"I've been privileged to be on their board and to see EPB become the great company that it is today," Gregg said after being unanimously picked to head the EPB board. "I've really come to love this company and its people and their dedication to this community. I think we've really seen the benefit of the Electric Power Board over the past couple of years, particularly during this COVID-19 pandemic, to reach out and work with the schools and others to make sure we had the connections we need."

With the aid of the city, Hamilton County schools and local foundations, EPB is providing free high-speed broadband service to all public school students in Hamilton County whose household incomes qualify the students for free- or reduced-price lunches.

Gregg said EPB's recovery from last year's tornadoes which initially knocked power off for nearly one third of its electricity customers also shows the power of EPB's smart grid in restoring power delivery.

With the aid of a $111.7 million federal grant, EPB began building a fiber-based smart grid across its 600-square-mile service territory in 2010. The network also allowed EPB to begin offering internet, phone and video services and to become the first utility in America to provide gigabyte-per-second broadband connections to every home and business that subscribed. By 2015, EPB also offered 10 Gig service throughout its service territory.

The Gig service, promoted by EPB as making Chattanooga "the Gig City," has helped spur $2.7 billion of economic growth and investment in Chattanooga, according to a study of EPB's economic impact by the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.

EPB serves nearly 180,000 homes and businesses with electricity service and provides high-speed internet, phone or video service to more than 110,00 customers..

During the board's monthly meeting, EPB directors also elected John Foy, a former chief financial officer at CBL Properties, as vice chairman and selected former Chattanooga Mayor Jon Kinsey as the board trustee on EPB's retirement plan board.

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

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