REC provides update on broadband project

Published 5:22 pm Tuesday, July 6, 2021

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JACKSON – Roanoke Electric Cooperative is making progress with its Roanoke Connect program, which is working to bring broadband internet access to the local area.

The Northampton County Commissioners heard an update about this project at their regular meeting here on June 21. Curtis Wynn, the President and CEO of Roanoke Electric, made the presentation.

Wynn reported that about 25 percent of the program’s total connections so far are in Northampton County. But much of the main focus right now is on continuing to get the infrastructure into place. The service will use a combination of fiber optic cables and fixed wireless.

Some of that work has been funded by grants from the state of North Carolina.

“We were committed to doing the Roanoke Electric service territory,” Wynn said. “We have shifted that to providing service to the entire county, whether you’re in the service territory or not.”

As they continue forward with the Roanoke Connect project, Wynn said they will still be seeking as many grant funds as possible. And he also asked for the commissioners to continue supporting the project.

Board Chair Charles Tyner said he was glad to hear what they’ve done so far, but he also wanted to know more about where the project is going next in the county and how many funds will be needed.

“I want this partnership,” Tyner stated. “We’ve got too many of our homes that don’t have broadband. And we’ve got too many of our schoolchildren who’ve fallen behind because they’re not able to connect.”

“This is really important for Northampton County,” Tyner concluded.

In addition to the update on Roanoke Connect, Wynn also shared some information about the cooperative’s Solar Operations & Maintenance (O&M) division.

He explained that REC’s linemen are trained to be able to maintain solar facility equipment, including repairs when there’s a problem.

“We’re taking care of solar plants all over the state for electric co-ops. We get called on quite a bit,” Wynn said, adding that he would like to see more of that work done locally.

The commissioners thanked Wynn for the updates, and requested that they meet again soon to continue the discussion.