Reliable internet access in Nelson County is continuing to look promising as Central Virginia Electric Cooperative was awarded over $1 million in funds to pursue broadband services.
CVEC was awarded $943,715 in grant funds through the Virginia Telecommunication Initiative (VATI), according to an April 8 news release. Amherst County received just more than $127,000 and Bedford County $1,040,000 through the initiative grant to aid their ongoing efforts to bring broadband to underserved rural areas of the county.
Along with the initiative grant award, CVEC was awarded $71,500 from the Albemarle Broadband Authority.
The money will go toward pursuing broadband in Albemarle, Cumberland, Fluvanna, Louisa, and Nelson counties. According to the news release, Governor Ralph Northam announced
$4.9 million in grant funds was awarded to 11 of the 31 proposals received.
“The VATI grant funds will be used to build fiber at the Midway and Columbia substations with an estimated completion date of April 2020. The Midway substation is one of five in Albemarle County and serves almost 700 members in Albemarle and Nelson counties. Located in southwestern Fluvanna County, the Columbia substation serves almost 500 members in Fluvanna and Cumberland counties. These newly announced stops are part of a five-year plan to install over 4,500 miles of fiber-optic cable in the 14 counties it serves, providing broadband internet to all of its 37,000 members,” the release said.
Galen Creekmore, key accounts and member engagement representative, said CVEC applied for the grant about six or seven months ago.
“It’s a pretty long process as far as the VATI program goes. You need to be able to show there is a need in the area and that’s what these grants are for; underserved areas or areas not served at all,” Creekmore said in a separate phone interview on April 8.
With the award, CVEC is required to complete the build out of the substations covered by the grant within 12 months of the money being made available.
“The money won’t be available for fiscal year 2019, but will be available for fiscal year 2020. Once it’s available we will begin construction, utilizing local contractors and getting boots on the ground,” Creekmore said.
Creekmore said this is exciting for members as well as CVEC because fast, reliable internet will be available where it hasn’t been before.
“It will be fiber internet equal to internet in the largest cities in America from New York to Los Angeles,” Creekmore said.