(The Center Square) — A $19 million American Rescue Plan grant will fund high-speed internet access for the Ocmulgee Electric Membership Corporation’s roughly 8,000 members in central Georgia.
The project to deploy upwards of 2,100 miles of a so-called fiber-to-the-home network will take up to four years to complete and cost at least $40 million for the nonprofit, member-owned electric power association, better known as a co-op.
“Ocmulgee EMC will procure funding for the remainder of the project costs,” Jeffrey Underwood, manager of office services for Eastman-based Ocmulgee EMC, told The Center Square.
The EMC is partnering with internet service provider Missouri-based Conexon Connect on the fiber-optic network project. The project will formally break ground in September, and the service will launch starting early next year.
“It’s great to see another EMC helping to bring broadband to rural Georgia,” Public Service Commission Commissioner Jason Shaw said in an announcement. “Broadband connectivity is crucial for providing all Georgians access to a 21st century economy.”
The funding is part of $408 million in ARP grants for 49 broadband projects serving Georgians in 70 counties across The Peach State that Gov. Brian Kemp, a Republican, initially announced in February. According to the Georgia Broadband Availability Map, at least 482,374 locations statewide were considered “unserved” as of last July.
“Our community deserves access to the tools that help our residents and businesses successfully participate in today’s economy,” state Rep. Danny Mathis, R-Cochran, said in an announcement.
Ocmulgee EMC serves members in Laurens, Dodge, Bleckley, Pulaski and Telfair counties.