Big news from East Central Energy (ECE)…
During their October 27 meeting, East Central Energy’s Board of Directors unanimously approved a resolution for the cooperative to enter the broadband business.
Vice President/Chief Information Officer Ty Houglum shares, “The board’s decision comes after nearly a year of hard work, including grant applications, a feasibility study, meetings with local entities, additional research, and learning from other co-ops that offer broadband.”
The cooperative urges patience since there are still many details to consider—as well as supply chain issues and multiple grants waiting to be awarded. ECE’s 14-county service area is roughly the size of Connecticut, and because some areas already have internet, the co-op plans to
prioritize unserved and underserved locations.
Houglum cautions, “While the co-op is excited the board approved our efforts to invest in continued growth and economic development for generations to come, this next chapter will take time. Changing the landscape of rural America is not an overnight task.”
Additional updates will be shared as ECE solidifies its broadband plan. Members are encouraged to regularly visit eastcentralenergy.com.
I spoke to Justin Jahnz and Ty Houglum at ECE about their plans in February. They had clearly done their work…
They estimate that the cost to bring fiber to their members is between $250-320 million; they have 123,000 residents (in MN and WI). They are expecting a 10-12 year return on investment with 35-40 percent financing. That patient investment is what helps a cooperative invest in something like this as long as it’s also an investment in the community.