As you may have heard, Dixie Electric was approved to receive grant funding for a high-speed internet pilot project.
Fifteen electric cooperatives, collectively, will match the grant money with $65 million to provide a total of $130 million for expanding broadband access across the state.
Dixie Electric’s portion of the grant funding will cover approximately half of the $7.4 million pilot project. The pilot project area includes southeastern Jones County and northwestern Perry County and is a two-phase project. The grant funding is for the installation of fiber optic cable to facilitate the delivery of broadband service to one of the most unserved or underserved areas of our service territory.
Our management, directors and employees are excited about this new venture, but with anything new, there is a learning process. The pilot project is an ideal first step in deploying high-speed internet services because it is manageable and attainable to accomplish in a relatively short period of time, allowing us to learn and train.
As expected, we’ve received numerous questions about how we chose the pilot project area and when we will expand high-speed internet services across our entire service territory. I’ve provided answers to those questions in the September issue of Today in Mississippi. Remember, this pilot project is a first step; therefore, decisions are still being made, and plans are evolving.
We need your help.
Please vote in the 2020 annual meeting elections. In addition to our annual board elections, our members will have an opportunity to vote “in favor of” or “not in favor of” a resolution to update the Certificate of Incorporation to include the ability to provide high-speed internet services.
Your vote for this resolution will determine whether or not we continue to develop a plan for our entire service territory. If members vote “in favor,” we will continue to move forward, and a decision will be made in early 2021. If members vote “not in favor,” our research and the decision-making process for a full-scale project in our service area will stop. To pass, the resolution requires a 60 percent majority of voters to mark “in favor.” Every vote counts. There are more details on the following pages on ways to vote and when voting opens.
I’ve talked a number of times in the past about the determination of farmers and residents in our local rural areas to start an electric cooperative to bring electricity to homes and farms across our service territory. As a result of their efforts some 80 years ago, the quality of life for rural Mississippians was forever changed. Today, the COVID-19 pandemic has clearly revealed quality of life issues that high-speed internet can address, such as distance learning, work from home or telemedicine opportunities.
Our pilot project is a first step to change this, and the road ahead is long and expensive. Your continued support and understanding are appreciated.