Several electric cooperatives and several counties in Virginia plan to work together to bring broadband to underserved rural areas of the state.
Dominion Energy Virginia; Rappahannock Electric Cooperative; Firefly Fiber Broadband, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Central Virginia Electric Cooperative and the counties of Albemarle, Appomattox, Buckingham, Cumberland, Fluvanna, Goochland, Greene, Louisa and Powhatan counties have agreed to a Memorandum of Understanding that could extend access to more than 25,000 residents.
Dominion Energy is also working with Prince George Electric on a rural broadband project.
In the Memorandum of Understanding announced today, Dominion Energy plans to install fiber in rural areas that can be used for operational needs as well as broadband access, reducing broadband deployment costs for internet service providers. Under the agreement, Firefly will lease the “middle-mile” fiber installed by Dominion Energy in the company’s electric service area in these nine counties.
The broadband will be delivered in a phased approach once regulatory approval is secured, which the stakeholders will apply for next year.
“The county administrators and Board of Supervisors should be applauded for their efforts to secure reliable, high-speed internet to their entire counties,” said Gary Wood, president and CEO of Firefly, in a prepared statement. “Firefly is eager to spread its wings and light up households and businesses with reliable and affordable fiber broadband through the Regional Internet Service Expansion (RISE) project.”
“This partnership marks a major step forward in ensuring that the communities we serve have access to quality, high speed internet that is critical to allowing homes, businesses and educational institutions to function in today’s digital world,” said Ed Baine, president of Dominion Energy Virginia, in a prepared statement about the Virginia rural broadband plans. “We are excited to work with Firefly Fiber Broadband, Rappahannock Electric Cooperative and each participating county to help support the expansion of this critical service.”
Firefly will be the ISP, while Rappahannock Electric Cooperative will own a fiber network where it delivers electricity.