ATLANTA, GA. (CW69 News at 10)

PRESS RELEASE:

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Central Georgia EMC, Southern Rivers Energy and Conexon expand broadband to 80,000 EMC members across 18 counties

 

Efforts to provide broadband in unserved areas of Georgia took another leap forward when Governor Brian Kemp, Lieutenant Governor Geoff Duncan and Speaker David Ralston made a joint announcement at the State Capitol today. Governor Kemp announced that Central Georgia EMC (Jackson, GA) and Southern Rivers Energy (Barnesville, GA) will form a new partnership with Conexon to provide high-speed internet to 80,000 homes and businesses in 18 Middle Georgia counties: Bibb, Butts, Clayton, Coweta, Crawford, Fayette, Henry, Jasper, Jones, Lamar, Meriwether, Monroe, Morgan, Newton, Pike, Putnam, Spalding, and Upson.

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The partnership includes a capital investment of more than $210 million overall. Central Georgia EMC (CGEMC) will invest $135 million, Southern Rivers Energy (SRE) will invest $53 million, and Conexon will contribute $21.5 million. Monroe County has also committed $1.3 million in local funds to incentivize the EMCs to start their projects in Monroe County.

Under terms of the agreement, the EMCs will partner with Conexon, a full-service fiber broadband provider, to design and build a 6,890 mile fiber network that will serve two strategic purposes: provide improved electric service and increased reliability through smart grid capabilities, and provide high-speed internet access to all 80,000 of the two EMCs’ members within the next four years, beginning as early as June 2021. Conexon works exclusively with electric cooperatives and is considered one of the pioneers in the electric cooperative broadband movement.

The two EMCs will own the fiber and lease excess capacity to Conexon which has agreed to serve every EMC member with fiber-to-the-home internet speeds up to 1 gigabit per second. The internet service will be powered by EMC fiber, but Conexon will provide the retail service to homes and businesses, managing account set-up, customer service and billing.

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“The announcement we are making today will have a real impact on the lives of countless hardworking Georgians. With expanded broadband access comes new job opportunities, improved education tools, and access to telemedicine,” said Governor Kemp. “This partnership is why I signed Senate Bill 2 in 2019 to allow EMCs the authority to provide broadband service. The legislation was intended to encourage what you see today – EMCs and community leaders, working together on creative solutions to close the gap between those with internet service and those without. This is an important leap forward, but make no mistake: we are just getting started. I will continue working alongside Lieutenant Governor Duncan, Speaker Ralston, and leaders in both chambers to expand access and opportunity for the people of rural Georgia.”