Planned electric upgrades lay foundation for Knoxville’s only 100% fiber network

As infrastructure across the U.S. ages and communities begin to feel the impact, Knoxville Utilities Board continues what it started 15 years ago to ensure its safe and reliable utility services do not suffer as a result of aging infrastructure.

KUB’s water, wastewater, natural gas, and electric infrastructure is all part of KUB’s ongoing Century II replacement and rehabilitation program, which launched in 2007. This includes larger infrastructure like electric substation and water treatment plants, as well as the pipes and wires that serve KUB customers.

In addition to replacing aging systems, Century II also provides for facility upgrades where they are needed. For example, steel natural gas mains are replaced with polyethylene mains, which are proven to require less maintenance. Along with new materials, KUB also incorporates new technology into its replacement work.

For example, in the electric system, fiber optic lines have been regularly added to KUB’s infrastructure to improve reliability since 2012, as part of its rolling 10-year plan.

“At KUB, we’re always looking ahead, anticipating, and planning for infrastructure enhancements. That’s what Century II is all about,” said Gabriel Bolas, president & CEO of KUB. “Part of our long-term planning was about improving electric reliability by adding fiber-optic cables, which allowed us to envision delivering high-speed internet as a fifth utility for our customers.”

Century II efforts have improved KUB’s systems in the following ways:

  • Water main breaks in KUB’s system have decreased by approximately 60 percent since Century II began in 2007.
  • KUB’s wastewater system began receiving upgrades prior to Century II under the PACE10 program, which set the stage for Century II company wide. Since PACE10 began in 2005, KUB has seen a 75% reduction in sewer overflows.
  • Through innovation in technology, KUB has saved more than 7.75 million minutes of electric service interruption since 2018.
  • In the last five years, KUB has reduced its already low natural gas leak rate by approximately 50% through Century II and integrity management programs.

In addition to regularly replacing pipes and wires, the following projects are underway:

  • Water treatment plant filter additions: This project will add six new water filters to KUB’s system with a 38 million-gallon-per-day capacity.
  • Wastewater pump station renovations: Two KUB pump stations will be updated to increase daily capacity by 8 million gallons.
  • Electric substation modernization: KUB’s ongoing substation modernization efforts are 72 percent complete. KUB is building a new infeed substation and has plans in place to build three new distribution substations to support growth and maintain reliability.
  • Fiber buildout: KUB’s ongoing fiber network buildout is expected to increase electric reliability by up to 40% at the end of the seven-year project.

For more information visit KUB’s Century II site.