Dominion Energy, Prince George Electric partnering on broadband project
The partnership marks the first time a utility has joined with a cooperative to expand broadband access in the Commonwealth. The agreement would extend access to around 4,500 Dominion Energy customers and 2,200 PGEC customers in Surry County currently not offered broadband services.
“Dominion Energy is committed to the communities in which we serve and live and embraces the opportunity with PGEC to expand access to broadband in rural communities,” said Ed Baine, senior vice president of power delivery for Dominion Energy Virginia. “Access will support economic development and social equity while simultaneously promoting numerous public benefits and educational opportunities for citizens of the Commonwealth.”
As a regulated electric service provider, Dominion Energy’s duty to provide electricity to all within its service territory puts it in a unique position to bridge the current broadband gap. Dominion Energy is installing fiber in rural areas as it moves forward with efforts to transform Virginia’s energy grid. By utilizing fiber capacity for operational needs and broadband access, Dominion Energy can reduce broadband deployment costs for internet service providers.
In this case, Dominion Energy agrees to serve as the “middle mile” provider by allowing RURALBAND, a wholly-owned subsidiary of PGEC, to lease fiber and provide last-mile Fiber To The Home service. The Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) details how the parties would work together on the project, which would be filed with the State Corporation Commission (SCC) later this year for regulatory approval.
“We are excited to have Dominion Energy partner with PGEC on this exciting opportunity to bring high speed internet to a beautiful waterfront community in need of access for education and economic development growth,” said Casey Logan, President of Prince George Electric Cooperative.
“This partnership brings rural Surry County into the modern communications age, bridging a vital utility gap through reliable high-speed broadband services to residents and businesses, essential to Surry’s social and economic prosperity,” said Melissa Rollins, Acting County Administrator – Surry County. “We appreciate the partnership and commitment by Dominion Energy and PGEC to bring broadband access to Surry and other rural Virginia communities.”
The MOU is the result of a request for information by Dominion Energy Virginia in 2019. This is the first agreement created through the Grid Transformation & Security Act of 2018 and legislation patroned by Del. Israel O’Quinn in 2019. It will require around $16-$18 million in investment provided by the three parties, as well as federal and state grants.