The New Hampshire Electric Co-op announced Thursday it’s forming a new entity that will focus on finding ways and funding to provide high speed Internet to its members.
This comes just a week after members voted on whether to include facilitating broadband access in the co-op’s by-laws. That measure narrowly failed to meet the two-thirds majority needed.
But, it did make clear to the co-op that broadband access was a priority for its members.
Co-op president and CEO Steve Camerino says that about 60 percent of co-op members don’t have access to high-speed Internet. The co-op serves about 84,000 people in New Hampshire.
“The only reason we’re even jumping into this is we serve a large service territory where people don’t have this available to them is because no one else in the commercial world has been willing to do it.”
Camerino says the new branch will receive $1 million in funding from the co-op to begin its work.
“We feel that we need to create a design for the areas that we want to serve and there are various consultants that are needed for that. There will be some surveying of potential subscribers,” he said.
But, Camerino says getting broadband to members will take several years, and the non-profit is still figuring out the best way to do that.
Richard Knox, who lives in Sandwich, was one of the members who pushed for the by-law change.
“We won without winning,” he said. “We got more than we expected, faster than we expected.”
The co-op plans to put in a project proposal for some of the $50 million from the CARES Act Gov. Chris Sununu has made available for broadband projects in the state.
Those applications are due next Thursday.