A Brief History

Although electricity was available in Knoxville as early as 1898, few people could afford it. Many families living around Knoxville still relied on kerosene lanterns and wood stoves until the late 1930s or early 1940s.

Knoxville's citizens voted in 1938 to form a public utility to bring affordable power to the community. The resulting Knoxville Electric Power and Water Board (renamed Knoxville Utilities Board in 1947) began providing electricity and water in 1939. It added gas service in 1945 and acquired wastewater service from the City of Knoxville in 1987.

This history section provides a timeline of significant events for KUB and Knoxville. It also offers photos and captions that give customers a glimpse into KUB's past.




"Uncle" Dick Payne sold water by the bucket from a barrel mounted on a cart. This primitive water supply is recognized as the first "Knoxville Water Works," 1845-1885.



The intake and low-lift pumping station of the city water works, constructed in 1882-83.



Old Knoxville Gas and Light Company, 1865.



Crude horse-drawn pole-raising wagon, late 1800s.


Knoxville's first electric generating plant was located on the corner of Sixth and Washington avenues.


Knoxville's first electric streetcar. At the turn of the century, electric streetcars were a fixture of downtown.
(McClung Historical Collection)


Knoxville Railway and Light Company acquires the William Caswell Furniture Company on the corner of Gay Street and Church Avenue, 1906


Knoxville Gas Company, circa 1920.


The Williams Creek facility was later renamed the Mark B. Whitaker Water Plant. Mr. Whitaker served as KUB general manager from 1953-1971.


In the early 1940s, KUB employees held community meetings in local schools to inform citizens about the coming of electricity to their neighborhoods.



The Kilowater Account, a KUB newsletter from the 1940s, featured news of employees serving overseas in World War II.


Underground construction in 1953 at Knoxville's first wastewater treatment plant at Love's Creek.
(The Knoxville News-Sentinel file photo)


"Discover how to spend less time in the kitchen... with a FREEZER." KUB window displays in the early 1960s promoted the convenience of modern electric appliances.


In the early 1960s, KUB expanded its water systems into West Knoxville. The photo at left shows a 24-inch concrete pressure pipe being installed on Gleason Road.


KUB purchased the Middlebrook Pike campus in 1965.


Aerial view of Kuwahee Wastewater Treatment Plant on Neyland Drive during construction in the early 1980s.



KUB employees have participated in the Dogwood Arts Festival Parade since 1995.

In 1998, KUB employees celebrated the passage of a charter amendment that gave KUB the freedom to compete in the utility marketplace.



In 2000 KUB, TVA, and local environmental groups begin working together to bring the Green Power Switch® pilot program to the Tennessee Valley. The renewable energy initiative offers consumers a choice in the type of power they buy by providing a more environmentally friendly alternative.

In 2000 KUB and the City of Knoxville sparked the revitalization of downtown Knoxville by sharing the costs of renovating the Miller's Building. The Miller's Building became the downtown office for KUB. 

In 2004 KUB kicked off its PACE 10 program, a $530 million accelerated program that accelerates long-term wastewater improvements to address environmental needs and regulatory requirements.

In 2005 KUB launched a partnership with Energy Star to help customers find energy efficient products to reduce energy consumed and utility bills.


In 2006 KUB completes the Walker Springs Storage Tank, one of four tanks planned for the system to help eliminate wet weather sewer overflows.


In 2007 KUB, like other utilities nationwide, must step up efforts to replace aging infrastructure. To meet that need, KUB launched Century II, an infrastructure management program to improve and maintain the electric, gas, water, and wastewater systems for our customers. Century II is an investment in our next 100 years of quality service - and in the quality of life in our community.

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