• 86°

Rural broadband grant inaugurated

RIO GRANDE — Buckeye Rural Electric Cooperative’s $2.5 million grant from the Appalachian Regional Commission Partnerships for Opportunity and Workforce and Economic Revitalization Initiative for the installation of 168 miles of fiber project that will connect the co-op’s substations in six counties of the eastern portion of its service territory was hailed by Lt. Gov. Jon Husted as “critically important for the future of the region.”

The initiative, which will improve service reliability and security and utilize available technologies among BREC’s substations via a fiber infrastructure, was celebrated at a Nov. 7 announcement at the University of Rio Grande, attended by Husted; John Carey, director of the governor’s officer of Appalachia; Ryan Smith, president of the University of Rio Grande and Rio Grande Community College; and Kent Eldridge, BREC vice president of member services. 

The infrastructure will allow for future broadband expansion by internet service providers, who will supply “last mile” service to connect homes and businesses to high-speed internet in the remote unserved and underserved areas of Gallia, Vinton, Meigs, Athens, Lawrence and Jackson counties. 

“Buckeye Rural Electric Cooperative is committing $1.1 million to the project, with the ARC POWER Initiative grant providing the additional $2.5 million, or 70 percent, of the $3.6 million cost.  It will take three years to complete the project,” Eldridge said.  “There must be a starting point for broadband to reach remote rural areas. The ARC grant will provide just that, and Buckeye Rural Electric Cooperative will be  the vehicle to transport service, thanks to the initial Southeast Ohio Broadband Backbone project.”