MEC project proposed

Published 11:28 am Wednesday, November 29, 2017

At a November meeting of the Charlotte County Board of Supervisors, Mecklenburg Electric Cooperative Vice President of Member and Energy Services David Lipscomb requested a letter of support for a new project to fill the broadband gap in rural Virginia.

Mecklenburg Electric Cooperative (MEC) has proposed to provide fiber optics to more than 300 homes in Charlotte County as a part of its initative to fill the whitespace gap in rural Virginia.

“We are going to connect all substations,” Lipscomb said.

He said while the cost of the project will be about $85 million to cover all areas served, it is doable.

“We’re there to provide a service,” said Lipscomb. “We will, during this project, construct 135 miles of fiber, and it will be funded by MEC. We will pass by 3,100 homes and businesses.”

About 300 of those are located in Charlotte County.

While Lipscomb said the cooperative has 27 substations across Southside Virginia, the cooperative serves nine southern Virginia counties and five northern North Carolina counties.

Mid-Atlantic Broadband Cooperative (MBC) will help with the project.

“There are locations that Mid-Atlantic Broadband already has fiber where we need it, and they said, ‘Guys, we can work out a sharing agreement,’ so we’re really excited about this,” Lipscomb said.

He said the project will begin on Highway 40 near Mt. Airy in Gretna, extend down 603 over to 501 and jump on Mid-Atlantic Broadband Cooperative fiber, ride near Chase City on Highway 92 to jump off MBC and come down Highway 92 to Highway 15 to roads located in Charlotte County.

Lipscomb said the opportunity is not unique to MEC. He said other cooperatives are attempting to do the same.

“Cooperatives are recognizing — just like they did in the 1930s when power wasn’t available — that if we want to bring services to our rural areas, we’re going to have to do it ourselves,” he said.

He said the newest utility in rural Virginia is broadband.

“We must start with a new deal 2.0,” Lipscomb said. “The time has come again for us to step up in Southside Virginia to support a partnership for this endeavor.”

He said he is tired of the local communities having to settle for less.