OPALCO Announces Internet Pilot Projects and Staff

At the October meeting of OPALCO’s Board of Directors, it was announced that Island Network will be
re-created as a new entity and wholly-owned subsidiary of the Co-op to provide Internet services. Gerry Lawlor has been hired as Manager of the new entity along with Alan Smith, Field Superintendent and Tom Schramm, Operations Superintendent. In early 2015, the new entity will emerge with a new name and office location – as well as a robust menu of Internet and voice services.

Currently, new connections are being planned in some of our more notorious “communication black hole” areas where OPALCO is upgrading our grid control backbone to improve field communications for our line crews and other emergency first responders. The first five projects are: Cattle Point/Cape San Juan, Doe Bay/Eagle Lake, South Lopez, Deer Harbor/Spring Point and Mt. Dallas/San Juan Island West. These locations also have strong neighborhood associations that are organized and ready to connect.

Our community truly needs OPALCO’s broadband option: we have families with NO Internet service at all, including a family with school-aged children,” reported Jim Hooper, Cape San Juan Homeowner Association president and past San Juan County Economic Development Council board member. “Our overall quality of life, connections to the world – and even real estate values – require better access to Internet services today.”

The five initial projects are projected to serve approximately 300 locations in this first phase. Island Network has identified another 2,500 potential connections by working with neighborhood associations where density and location allow the most members to benefit in the shortest time frame. The goal is to get the new entity (previously known as Island Network) to its financial break-even point: 2,000 to 3,000 connections – and then let it grow based on member demand.

Members who want to connect should do two things: 1) fill out a “Request for New Service” form online http://islandnetwork.opalco.com/contact/request-service/) to put your location on the map for future connection; and, 2) talk to your neighbors. If you are a member of an organized association, approach your group’s leadership and contact us about putting together a plan to connect. If you are not part of a group, talk it over with your neighbors and see if you can establish an informal group. Once you have established a group, please contact the team at connect@islandnetwork.net.