PVREA is undergoing a Grid Communication Improvement Project where we are installing fiber optic cable on our existing powerlines. This project will improve technical communication which will help us better manage our electric grid and improve service to you, our member.
Additionally, this project can potentially help bring broadband to Northern Colorado. We know access to reliable, high-speed Internet is important to our members, so we took a close look at how we can support increased access to broadband, and the result is the Grid Communication Project.
PVREA is building a portion of the broadband network called “the middle mile” - the backbone of the broadband network. This will enable us to attract and open the door for third-party broadband providers to come into our area and provide internet service.
To help bring broadband to underserved areas, we are including accommodations in our fiber construction plan that builds the middle mile backbone - without significantly impacting our finances or rates.
Our plan is to lease the middle mile to third-parties that have the expertise and personnel we lack. Through this approach, PVREA can utilize our resources and infrastructure to help enable broadband service in our region in a cost-effective manner. It’s just one of the many ways we’re looking out for you, our member.
PVREA’s contractor, MasTec, will be installing fiber on existing overhead and underground powerlines. Members may see bucket trucks and crews with boring equipment around their homes and/or businesses. There will be no disruption to folks’ electric service while we’re doing this work.
WHY DOESN’T PVREA PROVIDE BROADBAND INTERNET?
Fortunately, over 90 percent of households in PVREA’s service territory have high-speed Internet today – and over 50 percent already have broadband. Nevertheless, we want to help address this gap in high-speed Internet and broadband service – an identified need from some of our members and community leaders. We tapped an industry-leading consulting firm to conduct a feasibility study that incorporates member feedback and evaluation of our business models.
The research shows if PVREA provided a broadband service directly to our residential and commercial members it would require a $120 million capital investment in easements, labor, construction, equipment, legal, and other related costs.
Much of this cost is due to our service territory’s rugged terrain and the number of people we serve per mile of line. PVREA only serves 10 members per mile of electric distribution line. Meanwhile, municipal utilities serving more urban environments, like our neighbors in Fort Collins, average 48 customers per mile. Because of these factors, the research shows that on a year-to-year basis, there would always be more money going out than coming in.
This “last mile” model, where PVREA would be a broadband provider and having rates competitive with other service providers, simply never cash flows. Starting a PVREA broadband business could likely result in future electric rate increases and conflict with our mission to keep rates affordable. With these results, PVREA decided to support the path for broadband internet by utilizing our Grid Communication Project to open the door for “the middle mile”.
Do you have questions or want to learn more? Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or 1-800-432-1012.