LPEA board commits to enable broadband access to local communities


By Hillary Knox
La Plata Electric Association

The La Plata Electric Association (LPEA) Board of Directors passed a resolution recently clarifying the role of the cooperative in bringing broadband services to local communities. 

The resolution, which passed 11 to one, outlines the following LPEA strategic goal for broadband communications: LPEA will pursue a funding and partnership strategy that will enable broadband connections to its membership by 2030 without increasing electric rates to do so.

On Aug. 19, 2020, the LPEA Board of Directors voted to re-establish the Broadband Committee, which was initially established in August 2019. The committee was responsible for drafting an overall broadband strategy recommendation, with the help of external consultant Magellan Advisors, for consideration by the LPEA board. Now that this has been completed, the committee will be discontinued and LPEA will move ahead on next steps.

“After a thorough process of examining our options and the impacts of these options, the LPEA board is excited to have a clear path forward on broadband,” said LPEA Board President John Witchel. “I want to thank our members for their active and enthusiastic participation in this process to date. This will provide a boon to our community as a solid broadband network is a strong economic driver.”

“With this goal, LPEA is not investing any funds beyond those already approved for the operation of our electric grid,” said LPEA CEO Jessica Matlock. “LPEA was already planning to install 250 miles of fiber for reliability and safety reasons over the next five years, and that can now also act as the interstate for local broadband traffic. With this clear direction from the board and through a combination of partnerships that capitalize on state and federal grant dollars, LPEA’s investment can now be multiplied several times over to benefit our communities.”

More details on this process can be found at: https://lpea.coop/broadband-committee.