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New EPB 'microgrid' installed to keep power on for police, fire departments in Chattanooga

Photo via EPB.
Photo via EPB.
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Police, firefighters and other first responders in Chattanooga now have a way to stay online, even if the power is out.

EPB revealed what it calls 'the microgrid' Thursday morning.

This system includes solar panels on top of Chattanooga's Police Service Center.

The solar power will be gathered and stored, just in case.

The buildings already had backup power generators, but it wasn't always enough.

When disaster strikes and leaves entire communities in the dark without power, it provides such peace of mind to know that Chattanooga will have reliable energy for emergency response services,' said Chattanooga Fire Department Chief Phil Hyman. 'When the power goes out, communications systems fail and that can leave lives on the line. With public safety in the microgrid’s footprint, we can help keep regional infrastructure, such as responder operations, functioning.

The Power to Protect microgrid includes two main generation and storage systems that reduce costs and allow both the City and EPB to recoup their investments more quickly:

  • Generation: The City of Chattanooga purchased a 200-kilowatt diesel generator and 155 kilowatts of solar panels (installed on the building roof); these were installed “behind the meter” and reduce the amount of energy consumed at the location, lowering its monthly bill by roughly 20 percent.
  • Storage: EPB invested in a 500-kilowatt battery to support the microgrid and other grid services; the battery is installed “in front of the meter” so it can be used to shave peak load during extremely hot or cold weather, reducing TVA’s peak demand charge to EPB and keeping energy costs lower for local residents and businesses. (EPB does not shave peak load if severe weather is in the forecast; batteries are charged to capacity so they are prepared for an emergency.)

Chattanooga Mayor Tim Kelly says the microgrid will pay for itself in 7 years.

The city already installed a similar solar power generator at its wastewater treatment plant.

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This is a developing story and will be updated.

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