OEC board gives first phase of fiber project green light

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Following a lengthy process of feasibility studies, member surveys and research into fiber and broadband, OEC is set to kick off the first phase of OEC Fiber — a telecommunications subsidiary of OEC. This phase includes installing fiber communications to all substations located throughout our service area.

“As we begin running fiber lines from one substation to the next, we will offer members within a specified proximity to the line access to internet and telecommunications services via OEC Fiber,” said David Goodspeed, manager of fiber and broadband and OEC Fiber president. “This will be a slow-moving process as we work with contractors to ensure the service to our substations is reliable and functioning properly.”

The first phase (connecting our substations) is scheduled to be completed by the end of the year and will ultimately increase the reliability of our electric service as we are able to take advantage of its “smart” automation capabilities. Results from this phase will determine the next steps. While the potential for internet service availability in rural areas is exciting, the project will seem to move at a glacial pace for some.

“The board [of trustees] authorized this pilot phase and will use data collected from it to decide the feasibility of providing broadband service for our members on a wider scale,” said CEO Patrick Grace. 

OEC’s service area, while more urban, includes a surprising number of members who don’t have access to internet service. Just as investor-owned utilities refused to build electric service to rural areas in the 1930s, companies are choosing not to invest in providing rural areas with dependable internet service today. It’s a remarkably similar story to OEC’s earliest beginnings and is a natural extension of our mission to increase our members’ quality of life through the safe delivery of highly reliable, reasonably priced electric service, innovative energy programs and exceptional member service.

Members may stay up-to-date as OEC Fiber progresses. Visit www.OECFiber.com to learn more about the project and sign up to receive updates when they become available.