A Smart Grid as the Backbone for a Smart City

This information provided by Smart Cities Council North America.
Fri, 2013-03-15 11:40 -- Liz Enbysk


In 2011, the city of Chattanooga, Tennessee completed the installation of a smart grid that is becoming the backbone of a smart city, with measurable benefits. Installed by the Electric Power Board (EPB), the community-owned electric utility, the project encompassed EPB's 600-square-mile service area.

It included many smart city functions, including:

  • Ultra-high-speed Internet, voice and video access to all residents
  • A city-wide Wi-Fi network for use by the city and the utility
  • Street light controls
  • Surveillance cameras
  • Enhanced police and fire response

In addition to the smart city features, the project also included a high-speed grid monitoring and control system along with S&C Electric IntelliRupter circuit reclosers at key points along the power lines. Those smart switches allow operators to pinpoint the location of an outage, cutting down on the need for physical inspectors while saving hours or even days.

When a tornado hit the town in March of 2012, it took out power to only 3,400 residents, half the amount that would have been affected before.

When an even larger storm hit in July, the utility saw a 55% reduction in outage duration -- an estimated 58 million avoided minutes of customer interruption. Thousands of customers had their outages restored remotely, doing away with the need to roll a truck and crew. Expedited restoration saved EPB $1.4 million for that one storm, not counting the benefits to residents and businesses. The city estimates that reduced outage times will save EPB $6-7 million per year in costs while saving area businesses $40-45 million.

The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga has projected the total economic and social benefits at $600 million over the first 10 years.

More on Chattanooga's experience...