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Partnership aims to bring broadband to Louisa County

Officials in Louisa County on Monday announced a proposed partnership with energy utilities serving the community to provide broadband.

Louisa is finalizing a partnership with Rappahannock Electric Cooperative, Firefly Fiber Broadband, a subsidiary of Central Virginia Electric Cooperative and Dominion Energy to “ensure high-speed internet access is available to all of the homes and businesses in the county.”

In 2020, the Louisa County Board of Supervisors unanimously earmarked $15 million to prepare for construction and offset other project-related costs in the deployment of end-user fiber on a countywide basis, according to a news release.

“This historic partnership is a long-awaited and extraordinary benefit for Louisa’s citizens,” Duane Adams, Board of Supervisors representative to the Louisa Broadband Authority, said in the release. “Fiber-based broadband will bring improved education tools, new job opportunities, access to telemedicine and the potential to attract new businesses.”

REC will own the fiber network constructed in the majority of the county, the release said, and is providing use of its infrastructure, including poles.

Firefly will be the internet service provider for the partnership, and oversee construction of the REC-owned fiber in the REC service territory and then be responsible for network operation and fiber maintenance. Firefly also will lease “middle-mile” fiber installed by Dominion Energy in the company’s electricity service area in Louisa.

According to the release, under an agreement, the agencies will undertake a phased approach and will petition the State Corporation Commission for regulatory approval later this year.

The partnership will first complete engineering studies to determine the most efficient deployment plan and finalize funding requirements. It is estimated that 50% of the county will have access to the broadband by the end of 2023 and 75% by the end of 2024. Project completion is slated by the end of 2025.

Firefly received federal funding for fiber deployment in Louisa through the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund, totaling roughly $6.9 million over the next 10 years. The partners also plan to apply for Virginia Telecommunications Initiative grants, as well as other grant and funding sources.

For more information about the project, frequently asked questions and a map of the project area, visit fireflyva.com/partners.

Source: www.dailyprogress.com

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