Progress Report: OPALCO’s Broadband Initiative

OPALCO is on the home stretch in its year-long effort to explore the feasibility of expanding the existing fiber network and create a telecommunications infrastructure that would serve the County. The goals of the Initiative are to:

  1. Upgrade our electrical system by adding Smart Grid capabilities that will improve reliability and help members save money on energy costs;
  2. Improve the communication system for local public safety first responders, including OPALCO, Sheriff, Fire and EMS;
  3. Provide our members with access to high-speed Internet service at speeds of at least 10 Mbps; and
  4. Create new opportunities for economic development and expanded cellular coverage in the County.

We conducted a feasibility study early this year, and developed an initial plan. We are now engaged in a due diligence process, taking that analysis to the next level of detail. We are working with industry experts, equipment vendors, and contractors to acquire specific cost estimates that will help us make an informed business decision. We are also conducting field tests to verify the technical capabilities of the system.

This due diligence process will yield a draft business plan for review by OPALCO ‘s Board of Directors. We expect this review to take place at the Board’s October 18th meeting. As always, co-op members are welcome to attend OPALCO board meetings, and the business planning materials will also be posted at energysavings.opalco.com in November.

If the Board approves the plan, we expect to host another round of public forums to explain and discuss the direction and service offerings.

OPALCO would like to thank the many members who have weighed in on this project, those who attended the open forums in May, and those who worked long and hard in the public process to create a revised Wireless Ordinance. As a co-op, our strength is in working together to find practical solutions that serve the whole.