Singing River Electric’s board of directors continues to actively research the possibility of providing internet service to its members. Initial studies revealed significant risk to our members and the co-op, and a member survey did not show great overall interest. These results can be found in the October 2019 Today in Mississippi magazine located at singingriver.com/today-in-mississippi.
We recognize COVID-19 has emphasized the importance of quality internet service, not just those members who lack service. We understand and have updated our feasibility study. We are also presently working with a consultant to guide us through this very important decision.
Several funding opportunities are being considered as we move closer to this more than hundred-million dollar decision.
Our board of directors chose not to apply for CARES Act monies. Here is why:
- CARES Act funds must be spent, projects completed, and services offered to members within six months with a deadline of December 31, 2020.
- SRE presently does not have any fiber on our more than 7,000 miles of power lines. Fiber is not necessary for electric distribution.
- This makes it near impossible for SRE to hire additional workers and complete the work in the short time frame, as the lead time to order fiber optic cable is currently 15-18 weeks.
- Other co-ops may have some fiber for various reasons.
- At the deadline time, it had not been legally determined that electric cooperatives qualified to apply for CARES Act funding.
- This was a matching grant, so potentially $4 million of Singing River Electric's funds would have needed to be used to match the funding.
- Potential funding through th CARES Act and SRE's matching funds would have accounted for less than 5% of the total cost.
- And most importantly, CARES Act monies are not the only funds available, and certainly our decision to not apply for CARES Act money does not mean SRE is not considering offering broadband.
We will keep you updated on this evolving, important issue. Stay informed by:
- Reading the Today in Mississippi magazine mailed to you monthly.
- Visiting our website at singingriver.com.
- Following conversations on our social media pages including Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.