Funding to be used for broadband expansion in county

Published 1:30 am Saturday, February 12, 2022

Diverse Power gained a $25 million grant that will be used in broadband expansion within Troup County, thanks to funding from the American Rescue Plan Act.

Diverse Power will invest a total of $39 million total to expand broadband internet access through the company’s subsidiary provider, Kudzu Networks. The expansion will incorporate portions of Harris, Troup, Meriwether, Quitman and Coweta Counties.

Residents will see the majority of the Troup County’s expansion to take place mainly in the eastern and northeastern portions of the county, said Ken Pope, Diverse Power’s marketing and public relations coordinator.

“[The expansions will take place] around Mountville and the Greenville areas and a little east and a lot southeast of Hogansville,” Pope said.

“Then it will hit the southeast portion of LaGrange down towards Warm Springs, but it won’t go into Warm Springs.”

Pope estimates that the expansion will assist 4,769 customers in portions of Harris, Troup, Meriwether, Quitman and Coweta Counties.

The project is expected to start in the coming months and is estimated to take 36 to 48 months to complete.

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp’s office announced earlier this  month that a number of electric membership cooperatives (EMCs) in Georgia have been awarded millions in funding for broadband expansion through the America Rescue Plan Act, part of federal coronavirus relief funding allocated to Georgia. One of the recipients was Diverse Power, which received a $25 million grant toward a $39 million investment. Statewide the grant awards totaled $408 million in preliminary awards to 49 recipients, including seven EMCs. The goal is to provide fast and reliable internet service to communities, households and businesses in 70 counties in rural parts of the state.

Diverse Power will use the funding to serve 4,769 customers in portions of Harris, Troup, Meriwether, Quitman and Coweta Counties.

Troup County had 1,297 underserved households, required by the guidelines of the grant. The other impacted counties were Harris (485 underserved), Meriwether (1601), Quitman (497) and Coweta (890).

The subsidiary in the project is listed as Kudzu Networks. The project is estimated to take 36 to 48 months to complete.

Georgia EMC President/CEO Dennis Chastain said this is great news for EMC members and rural communities.

“This is a great day for these EMC members. Rural communities have long waited for broadband service, which is essential to compete in today’s digital world,” Chastain said. “The pandemic brought the issue to the forefront and shined a light on the disparities between communities, businesses and people with and without broadband access.”

In recent years, Georgia’s EMCs pursued solutions to help expand broadband access. Since 2019, 19 EMCs have made broadband announcements with plans to provide approximately 250,000 EMC members with high-speed internet service in 86 Georgia counties. This was done through six affiliates and 14 partnership agreements. In two years, EMCs combined have invested more than $680 million to expand broadband in their service areas.

Applications were reviewed by the Georgia Jobs and Infrastructure Committee created by Kemp. Most recipients included local governments, non-profit organizations and service providers ranging from large companies, EMCs and local Georgia-based telecommunications companies.