Central Virginia Electric Cooperative Will Build Fiber Network to Deliver Smart Grid and Broadband Internet Solutions
Central Virginia Electric Cooperative (CVEC) has a growing need for high-speed communications to many points on its electric distribution system. With the addition of a fiber network, CVEC will be able to better incorporate smart grid technology into its daily operations, improve integration of distributed energy resources, and help lower power costs through interactive energy management programs. Increasing bandwidth for communications within CVEC’s system will improve efficiency, increase reliability, and expand security.
In addition to improving the electric distribution system operation, CVEC sees other needs that may be met with the new fiber network. There are few locations along CVEC lines where members have access to reliable broadband internet service of a comparable price and quality to that available in urban and suburban America. President and CEO Gary Wood
explained, “CVEC believes that access to reliable, high-speed internet today is becoming as important as access to electricity in 1937. Given the great need for connectivity, CVEC will leverage its fiber network to provide a broadband internet solution that will serve the community now and for the future.” CVEC intends to make high-speed internet service available to all of its members using the CVEC fiber network.
CVEC is uniquely situated to provide broadband service in this area. The new cable will be installed on and adjacent to existing overhead and underground electric distribution lines. Utilizing the existing infrastructure will make economical installation possible. CVEC will install and own the fiber-optic cable, and offer internet services to its members through a subsidiary. The project will include a $100 million investment in new infrastructure and will add 20 to 25 new jobs to the central Virginia economy.
CVEC is developing plans for a five-year project to install fiber-optic cable across the entire 4600 miles of distribution lines. The CVEC Board of Directors has approved a one-year pilot program, to begin in 2018, and hopes to complete construction on a five-year timeline. Wood explained, “There are many hurdles to clear for the project to begin and then to be completed. The management and staff of CVEC are committed to meeting these challenges head-on and making world-class broadband internet service a reality for CVEC members.”
CVEC is focused on service instead of profits, and can be patient in waiting for a return on the fiber investment.