Louisa, Va. – Efforts to provide broadband internet service in Louisa County took a leap forward when officials announced today a recently proposed partnership with the energy utilities serving the community. Bob Babyok, Chairman of the Louisa County Board of Supervisors, announced that Louisa County is finalizing a partnership with Rappahannock Electric Cooperative (REC), Firefly Fiber BroadbandSM, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Central Virginia Electric Cooperative, and Dominion Energy Virginia to ensure high-speed internet access is available to all of the homes and businesses in the County.
The partnership includes a significant capital investment from all parties to ensure its success. In September 2020, the Louisa County Board of Supervisors unanimously earmarked $15 million to incentivize the deployment of end-user fiber on a countywide basis. The funds will be used to prepare for construction and offset other project-related costs. Serving as the cornerstone of the proposed partnership, REC will own the fiber network constructed in the majority of the county, and is providing use of its infrastructure, including poles, to make the Louisa County broadband initiative a reality. Initial phases of the project are slated for early 2021.
Firefly will be the internet service provider for the partnership and will ensure the availability of fiber broadband on a county-wide basis. Firefly will oversee construction of the REC-owned fiber in the REC service territory and then be responsible for network operation and fiber maintenance. As it moves forward with efforts to modernize Virginia’s energy grid, Dominion Energy is working to provide “middle-mile” fiber optic cable infrastructure that can also be used to bridge the digital gap and reduce broadband deployment costs in Louisa County. Firefly will lease the “middle-mile” fiber installed by Dominion Energy in the company’s electric service area in Louisa County.
“This historic partnership is a long-awaited and extraordinary benefit for Louisa’s citizens,” said Duane Adams, Louisa Board Vice Chairman and Board representative to the Louisa Broadband Authority. “Fiber-based broadband will bring improved education tools, new job opportunities, access to telemedicine, and the potential to attract new businesses. We want every resident and business to have access to reliable, quality internet, and today is the day that the bridge over the digital divide in Louisa County begins to take shape.”
Under the agreement, the parties will undertake a phased approach that will result in a petition to the State Corporation Commission for regulatory approval later in 2021. The first step in this partnership will be to complete engineering studies to determine the most efficient deployment plan and finalize funding requirements. It is estimated that 50% of the County will have access by the end of 2023, 75% by the end of 2024. Project completion is slated by the end of 2025.
For more information about the fiber construction project, frequently asked questions, and a map of the project area, visit www.fireflyva.com/partners.
“Since Firefly was established, providing a desperately needed service to unserved and underserved areas of Central Virginia has been our primary objective,” added Gary Wood, president and CEO of CVEC and Firefly. “This partnership approach developed with Louisa County assures every home and business gets world class broadband access, and the approach developed here can be replicated in other localities.”
“REC is excited to be part of the solution, especially within our 22-county service area,” added John Hewa, president and CEO of REC. “We are very proud of this partnership with Louisa County, Firefly, and Dominion Energy, and even more proud to be a critical part of the efforts to bring high speed internet to our member-owners.”
“Broadband access supports education, equity, and economic development initiatives and is more important than ever,” said Ed Baine, president of Dominion Energy Virginia. “We’re proud to work with our partners in Louisa County to be part of the solution and help bring this critical resource to the communities we serve.”
About Firefly Fiber Broadband
Headquartered in Palmyra, VA, Firefly Fiber BroadbandSM is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Central Virginia Electric Cooperative. Firefly offers lightning-fast internet via fiber to the premise that is reliable and priced fairly with no hidden equipment costs or price increases. Firefly has no contracts, no data caps or slowdowns and offers symmetrical upload and download speeds. Firefly Light offers 100 mbps for $49.99; Firefly Flash offers 1 gbps for $79.99; and Firefly Voice is $35.99 with a $5.00 discount when bundled with the internet. For more information, visit www.fireflyva.com
About Rappahannock Electric Cooperative
REC provides electric service to over 170,000 connections in parts of 22 Virginia counties. With its general office in Fredericksburg, Va., the Cooperative operates and maintains more than 17,000 miles of power lines through its service area, which ranges from the Blue Ridge Mountains to the tidal waters of the Chesapeake Bay. For more information about REC, please visit www.myrec.coop. Follow REC on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and YouTube.
About Dominion Energy
More than 7 million customers in 16 states energize their homes and businesses with electricity or natural gas from Dominion Energy (NYSE: D), headquartered in Richmond, Va. The company is committed to sustainable, reliable, affordable and safe energy and to achieving net zero carbon dioxide and methane emissions from its power generation and gas infrastructure operations by 2050. Please visit DominionEnergy.com to learn more.
For further information: County of Louisa: Christian Goodwin, County Administrator, 540-967-0401, firstname.lastname@example.org Rappahannock Electric Cooperative: Casey Hollins, Manager of Communications and Public Relations, 540-891-5908, email@example.com Firefly Fiber Broadband: Melissa Gay, Communications and Member Services Manager, 434-263-7638, firstname.lastname@example.org Dominion Energy: Sarah Marshall, External Affairs Manager, 804-461-8642, email@example.com