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.

For an overview of the replacement focus for each service, please see below.

You can also find more information in our Century II Information Sheet and Frequently Asked Questions section.

Electric System

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 2023): 

  • 1,135 poles were replaced in FY23 for a total of approximately 23,000 poles replaced since 2012. Details about KUB's pole replacement process can be found here.
  • 9 miles of transmission lines were replaced in FY23 as part of KUB's high voltage transmission system rebuild. 
  • KUB's substation modernization efforts are 81 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. 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.

By The Numbers (as of the end of Fiscal Year 2023):

  • KUB's natural gas system is made up of 92 percent polyethylene pipe, which has a lower installation cost and considerably less maintenance.
  • KUB's in-house gas valve maintenance crew inspects KUB's 21,000 valves on a five-year cycle with critical valves inspected annually.

Water System

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.

By The Numbers (as of the end of Fiscal Year 2023):

  • 3.2 miles of galvanized pipe and 5.2 miles of cast iron/cement pipe were replaced in FY23.
  • KUB crews operate and maintain 8,500 hydrants on a three-year cycle. Crews also inspect and maintain KUB's 20,000 water vlaves on a five-year cycle with critical valves inspected annually.

Wastewater System

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.

By The Numbers (as of the end of Fiscal Year 2023):

  • 9.53 miles of pipe were rehabilitated or replaced 
  • Two pump stations are being updated, which will increase daily capacity by 8 million gallons