KUB, like other utilities nationwide, continues to face the challenge of replacing aging infrastructure. KUB launched its Century II infrastructure management program in 2007 to improve and maintain the electric, natural gas, water, and wastewater systems for our customers.
Century II includes the maintenance and replacement strategies for each system that were in place before Century II and establishes sustainable replacement cycles. It moves KUB into its second century of service by improving each system through sound planning, resource allocation, and continued, but accelerated, investment.
Funding for Century II is on track to help KUB continue to provide safe, reliable utility services and meet customer needs—now and in the future. By anticipating and addressing needs now, customers will realize long-term benefits and experience even fewer service interruptions.
KUB is on a sustainable life-cycle replacement program for poles, overhead wires, and underground cables. We are also concentrating on our substations, some of which have been in service since the 1940s. As we replace transmission poles, we are also adding fiber-optic lines between substations to improve data communication.
By The Numbers (as of the end of Fiscal Year 2020):
- Approximately 1,900 poles were replaced in FY 20 for a total of approximately 21,000 poles replaced since 2012. Details about KUB's pole replacement process can be found here.
- 15 miles of transmission lines were replaced in FY 20 as part of KUB's 10-year high voltage transmission system rebuild.
- KUB's substation modernization efforts are 68 percent complete. These efforts include installation of longer-lasting technology and animal resistant equipment to improve electric reliability.
Natural Gas System
KUB continues to look at the need to replace older pipe types and extend service to provide a safe, reliable system to serve current and future customers. We have had numerous gas asset replacement programs for decades, continually renewing the system, which we rolled into Century II. The 40-year cast iron/ductile pipe program, which began in 1980, has been recently completed.
The natural gas system continues to focus on replacing older pipe types with plastic pipe that has a longer life and lower maintenance costs. Revenues over this timeframe will also help fund new construction, support regulatory programs, and increase safety surveys and corrosion monitoring.
We are proud of our safe, high-quality water and committed to maintaining the system that delivers it. Although KUB's water system has stood the test of time well, some components are nearing the end of their useful life.
KUB was able to accelerate our rate of replacement for older pipes under the 10-year Century II financial plan approved in 2011. KUB doubled the rate for removing older galvanized and cast iron pipe from our system. The plan includes funding for completely removing outdated galvanized main from our system by 2024.
In 1987, Knoxville voters chose to transfer the ownership of the wastewater system from the City of Knoxville, which was struggling to keep up with the financial demands and repairs, to KUB.
Over the next 15 years, KUB made accelerated improvements and investments to the system’s plants, working to mitigate issues that the wastewater system was experiencing before KUB owned it. This primarily included sanitary sewer overflows (SSOs), where sewage water surfaces from manholes—a disruption to both the community and the environment.
In December 2004, following the filing of a Clean Water Act lawsuit, KUB reached a settlement agreement with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation, the Tennessee Clean Water Network, and the City of Knoxville to address SSOs on KUB's wastewater system and violations to the Clean Water Act. This agreement, called a consent decree, was officially entered into the federal court record on February 11, 2005.
In October 2004, KUB launched a sewer improvement program called Partners Acting for a Cleaner Environment (PACE 10). The consent decree required an initial $530 million in system improvements and placed additional requirements on KUB, including penalties for overflows. KUB was already making improvements to the system—the decree increased the pace of work.
When PACE 10 was completed in 2014, KUB transitioned all wastewater system improvement projects under Century II with the other systems. KUB's request for consent decree termination was granted in June 2022. Moving forward, KUB will continue to invest in the wastewater system.