SVEC plans site visits for fiber network in Augusta County
Beginning in mid-September, contractors working for Shenandoah Valley Electric Cooperative will visit co-op members and landowners in Augusta County to obtain updated easements for a fiber-optic project.
As a public utility, SVEC is responsible for the safety and reliability of its electrical system. The cooperative holds easements over properties it doesn’t own and where existing powerlines run. This provides SVEC the necessary access for ongoing infrastructure improvements or maintenance.
SVEC is deploying a fiber network across its service territory to improve electric system communication. This network will connect substations, communication sites, offices and other SVEC facilities, crossing properties within the cooperative’s right-of-way.
The initial phase of fiber-optic construction in Augusta County will begin at the Cold Springs Substation near Greenville, head west through Middlebrook and then turn north to the Trimbles Mill Substation in Swoope. Affected landowners will be notified by SVEC through a postcard in the mail.
The easements for the fiber-optic project allow for the potential addition of broadband infrastructure for internet service providers. By installing additional fiber capacity, the cooperative will act as a “middle-mile provider” and will lease the extra space to internet service providers. SVEC does not have current plans to be an internet service provider.
“I am excited to see us gain efficiencies and security in our electric distribution system and business operations while concurrently helping our members and communities through being part of the rural broadband solution,” says Wayne Hannah, SVEC’s vice president and chief information officer and fiber project leader. “We’re providing an option for internet service providers to bring broadband to rural areas, and that’s a major milestone for us and our members.”
Timmons Group will complete the contract work in Augusta County. Contractors will be making door-to-door visits to speak with property owners regarding easements, as well as working within SVEC’s easement to assess make-ready work. The contractors will be in a company branded vehicle with a Shenandoah Valley Electric Cooperative magnet.
The roll-out of the fiber project will take several years to complete. The initial phase of construction will take place in Augusta and Page counties. Once complete, the projects will continue into Frederick, Rockingham and Shenandoah counties. The project timeline for each locality varies based on the amount of “make-ready” work necessary. This work includes assessing the availability of poles for attachments. In many cases, there are non-electric cables and wires on co-op poles. Engineers must evaluate the structure of the poles to know whether additional attachments can be made without changes.
The SVEC Board of Directors voted at an August 2020 strategic planning meeting to leverage an already planned fiber network system build out to provide infrastructure to internet service providers. The fiber project was originally approved by the cooperative’s board to connect substations, communications towers and other facilities to offer a more reliable, long-term technology for the cooperative and its members.
For the most current information regarding the SVEC fiber project, visit svec.coop/fiber.
Chartered in 1936, SVEC serves approximately 96,000 meters in the counties of Augusta, Clarke, Frederick, Highland, Page, Rockingham, Shenandoah, and Warren and the City of Winchester in Virginia. SVEC was the first electric cooperative chartered in Virginia. This institution is an equal opportunity provider and employer. SVEC supports our armed services and veterans in employment opportunities.