EPB unveils $3.5 million futuristic command bunker in Chattanooga

    Matt Kerr, a network operations technician, works in EPB’s all-new, state-of-the-art Distribution Center designed to compliment the citywide Smart Grid and fiber optic network. Photo by Dan Henry.

    EPB on Wednesday unveiled a new $3.5 million war room and distribution center at the rear of its sprawling complex at the corner of Oak and Greenwood streets.

    Access is restricted to the bunker-like facility, which is guarded by security forces and locked with biometric screening devices.

    Set in limestone bedrock, the reinforced steel and concrete structure is built to withstand natural disasters, including tornadoes. Metal shutters can be rolled down in an emergency to bolster the impact-proof glass windows, protecting the humans inside EPB’s futuristic nerve center.

    Dual backup power supplies can keep computers running in case of a power interruption, allowing EPB to continue directing crews in the field during a disaster.

    Extra dispatch stations allow the utility to flood the building with extra personnel in case of tornadoes or other storms that cause widespread outages. Those additional dispatchers are required to direct as many as 1,600 field workers who are brought in to deal with the fallout from fallen trees and broken lines.

    “We’re expecting this building to still be here after a nuclear blast,” EPB President Harold DePriest said. “It’s pretty stout.”

    The basement holds hundreds of servers cooled by dozens of air-conditioning units outside. More than $50 million of server equipment, much of which predates the recently-added control room, route television signals from rows of giant satellite dishes into 66,000 homes across Chattanooga.

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