ARC POWER Grant Funding to Expand Broadband Access

In 2019, the Ohio Valley Regional Development Commission (OVRDC) had the opportunity to help the Buckeye Rural Electric Cooperative secure $2.5 million in Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) POWER grant funding. This funding will allow the cooperative to install fiber in order to connect the co-op’s substations located throughout six counties in the eastern portion of their service territory in southeastern Ohio. 

The OVRDC’s role in this project included assistance with parts of the cooperative’s grant application, as well as the completion of the project’s environmental review.

According to the cooperative, “the initiative will improve service reliability and security, and utilize available technologies among BREC’s substations, by providing a fiber infrastructure, or ‘backbone,’ that will also allow for future broadband expansion by internet service providers (ISP). These ISPs will provide ‘last mile’ service to connect homes and businesses to high-speed internet in the remote unserved and underserved areas of Gallia, Vinton, Meigs, Athens, Lawrence, and Jackson counties.”

The ARC’s website notes that the “POWER (Partnerships for Opportunity and Workforce and Economic Revitalization) Initiative targets federal resources to help communities and regions that have been affected by job losses in coal mining, coal power plant operations, and coal-related supply chain industries due to the changing economics of America’s energy production.”

Founded in 1938, not-for-profit, Rio Grande-based Buckeye Rural Electric Cooperative serves approximately 19,000 consumer-members in parts of Athens, Gallia, Jackson, Lawrence, Meigs, Pike, Ross, Scioto, and Vinton counties.