The Newport Utilities Board was told Monday a total of 2,320 customers have signed up for broadband service, and service in the Del Rio community will be completed this week. The number of customers in Newport is slightly lower than expected because competitive services are offering short term discounts to lure in new customers.

The utility will apply for a state grant for fiber and wireless service. The wireless service is planned initially for the Bybee community and will offer service to approximately 10,500 current customers.

Two nitrification pumps in the water treatment plant are 40 years old and worn out; they will be replaced at a cost of $178,000; with electric and other auxiliary expenses the total cost is expected to reach $350,000.

A game day tent will be set up at the Newport Harvest Street Festival this weekend to allow festival-goers to watch college football games. The utility will have a presence at the other community festivals throughout this month as well.

General Manager Glenn Ray reported UT engineering students are working at the wastewater treatment plant on a senior project.

Ray also talked about the current state of flux in the electric utility industry.

“The demand for electricity keeps tailing off and is going down, that’s a trend across the U.S., not just Newport Utilities and TVA.”

But some oil firms are diversifying and taking a stake in the electric industry.

“One of the industries out there that is looking ten to fifteen years down the road is Shell Oil. They have bought an electric company in Eastern Europe and they are planning on starting to distribute electricity, and they also have invested in electric cars and charging units for electric cars.”

Ray points out much of future TVA revenue will depend on renewable energy, and many large firms are installing rooftop solar units to reduce their electricity costs.

He said TVA has cut back on solar installation incentives because the cost of solar has decreased in recent years.