A Monumental Vote for Broadband
If you get your power through Choptank Electric Cooperative, YOU have a vote!
by Mike Malandro, President and Chief Executive Officer
Your vote on the issue of Member Regulation and the opportunity it presents for our Cooperative is monumental. With this new flexibility, we will offer broadband and close the internet gap here on the Eastern Shore.
As members, you asked us to use the cooperative model for broadband the same way we did with electricity for rural households 80 years ago. The bill that passed the General Assembly in March — that set up your vote on Member Regulation — lowers the risk and allows us to use economies of scale.
When the vote passes, we will create a broadband affiliate to provide “last-mile” internet connection to rural homes and businesses. “Last-mile” is the customer service end of the broadband business. There are a lot of “middle-mile” fiber owners across our region, but few are willing to connect our most rural residents to this essential service.
Customer service and infrastructure development are what electric cooperatives do best. As a not-for-profit business, our entire focus is on delivering what you need with cost and quality in mind. This is how we will approach the broadband business.
Cooperative members have already invested $15 million to develop a fiber-based smart grid to connect electric substations. It makes sense for us to move into the retail business and generate revenue from that investment. As a not-for-profit, that revenue benefits you, the member, by keeping rates down.
State and federal grants can provide 30-50% of the infrastructure cost for broadband. If the vote passes in August, we will move forward aggressively to spin-up the affiliate and seek the grants.
Our game plan — maps, deployment time frame, and subscription costs – should be available over the winter. We will hold community meetings to explain the plan. You will be able to see when we expect to connect your home. It took 20 years to connect all our members to electricity. We will do this in half that time. Our 10-year plan will be one we can deliver and you can count on.
I look forward to working with you to “power the change” here on the Eastern Shore. Cast your vote. It is monumental.