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N.H. Electric Co-op Members Vote To Add High-Speed Internet Access To Bylaws

N.H. Electric Cooperative members support adding broadband access to the utility's mission.
Wikimedia Commons

Members of the New Hampshire Electric Cooperative have voted by a wide margin to add rural broadband service to the utility’s mission.

The vote was 88 percent in favor of adding broadbandto the Co-op’s bylaws, alongside electric service. An earlier campaign to do this fell just short of passing.

The change could help the Co-op receive public funding for broadband projects, or partner with other companies to provide high-speed internet service to members.

Co-op officials say in a statementthat they’re well positioned to do this for internet, just as they did for electricity in rural New Hampshire decades ago. The COVID-19 pandemic brought the need for high-speed internet into focus, according to the statement from the not-for-profit electric utility, which has headquarters in Plymouth.

A 2019 report found that more than 100 other rural electric co-ops have expanded into broadband nationwide.

New Hampshire Broadband Advocates, a grassroots group, praised the vote. "This is the second time in four months that Co-op members have told the board and management in no uncertain terms that they want and expect the member-owned utility to help fill the region's painful broadband gap," Richard Knox, chair of the group, said in a statement.

Annie has covered the environment, energy, climate change and the Seacoast region for NHPR since 2017. She leads the newsroom's climate reporting project, By Degrees.

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