RE Magazine Insert Highlights Co-op’s Broadband Funding Success

Randy Sukow


Be sure to look for the annual Broadband Special Insert with the August issue of RE Magazine. This year’s NRTC contribution is a description of White River Valley Electric Cooperative’s (WRVEC’s) efforts to bring broadband service to some of the most unserved regions of Missouri and how the co-op’s application for funding from the state ended with a grant exceeding $47 million.

“We went out on a limb on this, knowing the challenges and risks involved,” said Beau Jackson, CEO of White River Connect, LLC, WRVEC’s broadband subsidiary. WRVEC made the decision to go forward with its broadband plans even before winning state support, despite the uncertain economics. “The need for broadband was too great and too important to say no, and with that, it was determined that there was a high probability of success.”

A feasibility study dating back to 2016 confirmed that WRVEC’s service area was not ready for broadband construction in the remote areas. The situation changed with the COVID-19 pandemic, when always-high member demand for broadband increased even more. With NRTC assistance, WRVEC conducted another feasibility study. The results showed that the project would still build large amounts of debt. But the co-op’s board unanimously voted to go forward with the project.

NRTC also assisted WRVEC with its application to the Missouri Broadband Infrastructure Grant Program, which based its grant awards on a point system. The lack of existing broadband service in the area combined with matching support pledges from county governments helped ensure WRVEC a high point count and the largest of 12 awards Missouri announced in January 2023.

RE Magazine is available electronically to its subscribers from its website.

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