MEC’s Empower Broadband Awarded $375,000 Tobacco Commission Grant

On June 6th, the Tobacco Region Revitalization Commission (TRRC) awarded $375,549 to Mecklenburg Electric Cooperative’s affiliate, EMPOWER Broadband. This grant is a part of the TRRC’s Last Mile Broadband Program and will be used to extend Fiber-To-The-Premise (FTTP) into Pittsylvania County’s Mount Airy and Grit communities.

Mecklenburg Electric Cooperative will construct a 9.2-mile fiber backbone with EMPOWER Broadband, Inc. extending fiber to homes and businesses within 1,000 feet of the backbone. This project will make state-of-the-art high-speed fiber internet available to over 400 residents along the route beginning near the intersection of Highway 40 and Renan Road and concluding near the intersection of Wards and Spaniel Roads. EMPOWER’s fiber broadband will provide internet packages at a minimum of 50 Megabits per second up to 1000 Megabits per second; these speeds easily meet the growing needs of students and encourage the development of the most data-driven businesses.

This TRRC grant-funded project, along with the 135-mile fiber backbone currently under construction, will provide a solid foundation to deploy fiber internet across Mecklenburg Electric’s service territory. Additionally, this grant represents a continued partnership between Pittsylvania County and Mecklenburg Electric Cooperative to provide fast, reliable internet service to improve the quality of life for citizens of the county.

Greg Sides, assistant county administrator for Pittsylvania County, states “We are always looking for great partners that are invested in the community and want to make Pittsylvania County the best it can be. We have found that in Mecklenburg Electric and know that they are here for the long haul because of their deep commitment to the communities that they serve.”

This is the second TRRC grant received by Mecklenburg Electric Cooperative and EMPOWER Broadband to build out their fiber optic backbone system and presents a prime opportunity for Pittsylvania County and Southside Virginia, according to Senator Frank Ruff.

“For far too long we have heard groups say that they were going to bring internet to Southside and we have yet to see results. Mecklenburg Electric has done more than talk, they have been working diligently to build fiber internet across Southside and have already started installing internet services to their members,” said Ruff.

Mecklenburg Electric Cooperative received approval from the State Corporation Commission on January 30, 2019, giving the go-ahead for its EMPOWER subsidiary. Since that date, MEC has intensified construction of its backbone while EMPOWER has been installing fiber internet to the premises of those who live along the route.