NASHVILLE, Tenn. – More than $11 million of $19.7 million in broadband accessibility grants announced last week by the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development will go to Tennessee electric cooperatives. Ten of the 17 grant recipients were electric co-ops.
“One of my top priorities is ensuring the success of rural Tennessee. With the assistance of these grants, communities across 21 counties will now have access to broadband that will aid in that success,” Gov. Bill Lee said. “I applaud the efforts of these 17 broadband providers as they play a fundamental role in our efforts to boost rural communities throughout Tennessee.”
The grants come at a time when the need for rural broadband is clear.
“We’re excited about this investment in rural Tennessee,” says David Callis, executive vice president and general manager of the Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association. “The current COVID-19 crisis has confirmed what we’ve known for some time: Rural America needs reliable broadband. Education, healthcare and commerce rely on a dependable, high-speed connection to the internet. More than ever, we’re seeing how vital that connection to the rest of the world truly is.”
Electric co-ops receiving grants are:
- Fayetteville Public Utilities: $1,750,000, serving parts of Lincoln County
- Forked Deer Electric Cooperative: $719,921, serving parts of Haywood and Lauderdale counties
- Gibson Electric Membership Corporation: $703,518, serving parts of Obion County
- HolstonConnect LLC (Holston Electric Cooperative): $361,211, serving the Mooresburg community in Hamblen and Hawkins counties
- Meriwether Lewis Electric Cooperative: $593,166, serving parts of south Perry County
- PVECFiber (Powell Valley Electric Cooperative) and Scott County Telephone Cooperative: $1,908,811.24, serving part of Union County
- SVEConnect (Sequachee Valley Electric Cooperative): $1,654,882, serving the Battle Creek and South Pittsburg Mountain communities in Marion County
- Southwest Tennessee Electric Membership Corporation: $1,768,686, serving parts near the Brownsville community in Haywood County
- Tri-County Fiber Communications LLC (Tri-County Electric Membership Corporation): $501,811, serving parts of Trousdale County
- United Communications (Middle Tennessee Electric Membership Corporation): $1,331,504.80, serving the Eagleville community in rural Rutherford and Williamson counties
The broadband accessibility grant fund was created in 2017 as a key component of the Tennessee Broadband Accessibility Act – sweeping legislation designed to close the digital divide in Tennessee. In the years since, many of Tennessee’s electric co-ops have invested more than $187 million in broadband projects that will eventually bring high-speed internet access to more than 790,000 homes and businesses.