LCUB plans new HQ

Alan Sloan

Lenoir City Utilities Board is promising its more than 61,000 electrical customers improved service thanks to a soon-to-be constructed 113,000-square foot new facility, which is moving closer to Farragut, plus a 43-mile range of new fiber optics. To be located off Creekwood Park Boulevard “one block” from Kingston Pike between Highway 321 and Highway 70, the new headquarters includes “plans for a new data center,” M. Shannon Littleton, LCUB chairman, said.

While the new facility has a tentative operational date of July 2016 according to Littleton, “Hopefully within the next 12 months, we will have fully deployed 43 miles of a fiber ring around the LCUB territory, which essentially goes from Loudon County through Turkey Creek and cuts across Cedar Bluff. … Some parts will eventually touch Northshore [Drive],” he added. The fiber optics will “be a part of electrical system. It will help with data, the monitoring of the providing of our power, power quality. … It off-loads some the congestion that we have on the wireless system that we have on our metering system. It’s also going to help support our metering system with bringing data back to the office. … Monitoring our substations.”

To upgrade, “Physically we will have to attach fiber to our existing electrical poles,” Littleton said. “We’ll have to change some of our poles to deploy this fiber.” The upgrade will cause no disruption in service, Littleton said, except for a flagger here and there on some of the roads.” The new facility will include a “data storage depository … for our governmental facilities and our school system where they can deposit information safely,” Littleton added.

 Though LCUB technically would be able to provide broadband services such as Internet and cable television, “We do not have plans right now to be in the broadband business,” Littleton said. “But what has happened is we’ve had people knocking our door down that want to be in broadband, to be in some kind of partnership or rent from us or do something to supply high-speed access to customers within our territory.”

Littleton said he hasn’t had “any serious discussion” with any such inquiring companies, adding he “didn’t know” if a utility-private company broadband partnership would even be legal. “I don’t have any plans right now to take it to the Board. But the infrastructure is going to be put in place.” Its new facility “is probably the biggest project we’ve ever undertaken,” Littleton said, adding LCUB has been at its current downtown Lenoir City location at 200 Depot St. “since 1962. So it’s long overdue.” Littleton said the new facility will be “the optimal spot in order for us to respond to outages and water issues and gas issues.”