Grover Norquist: Chattanooga’s EPB Will Take 680 Years to Break Even


Grover Norquist cited Chattanooga’s Electric Power Board this week as an example of why the government should not run broadband to compete against private Internet Service Providers.

Norquist did this while lambasting Democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren and her desire to spend taxpayer money on Government-Owned Internet.

This, according to a new article Norquist wrote on

“Of the ‘solutions’ Elizabeth Warren is touting on the campaign trail, her proposal to spend $85 billion federal dollars on government-owned broadband is the most laughable. Government-owned broadband networks (GONs) are a tried and failed experiment. It seems Warren is not the only politician uninterested in learning from the dozens of cautionary GON tails that have piled up over the years. Elected officials in the city of Redding, California recently agreed to spend $30,000 tax dollars on a ‘study’ of the feasibility of a GON,” Norquist wrote.

“For much less than $30,000, one could take a train to Chattanooga, Tennessee and learn where a GON leads. Chattanooga received a $50 million loan from the city’s electric power division, $162 million in local revenue bonds, and a one-time $111.5 million subsidy from the federal government. The return on investment for this GON has been so poor that it’s estimated to take more than 680 years to break even. Proponents of GONs often try to distract from these facts with claims that Chattanooga’s network has created jobs and been a boon to the local economy. However, a 2019 independent assessment by the Phoenix Center – a Washington, D.C.-based think-tank – finds otherwise.”

As The Tennessee Star reported last month, Tennessee Republican Gov. Bill Lee has appointed one of Chattanooga’s Electric Power Board vice presidents to serve as the state’s new commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance.

That man, according to a statement by the governor’s office, is Hodgen Mainda, who served as EPB’s vice president for community development.

Mainda started at the Department of Commerce & Insurance this month.

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Chris Butler is an investigative journalist at The Tennessee Star. Follow Chris on Facebook. Email tips to [email protected]

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