N.H. Electric Co-op Members Vote To Add High-Speed Internet Access To Bylaws | New Hampshire Public Radio

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

Oct 16, 2020

N.H. Electric Cooperative members support adding broadband access to the utility's mission.
Credit 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 broadband to 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 statement that 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.