Portman Praises $24,500 ARC POWER Grant to Washington Electric Cooperative
Funds Will Be Used to Conduct Broadband Feasibility Study in Six Ohio Counties
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Rob Portman (R-OH) announced that the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) awarded a $24,500 grant to Washington Electric Cooperative, Inc. (WECI), a member-owned electric distribution cooperative that provides power to more than 10,000 Ohioans across the southeastern part of the state. Partnerships for Opportunity and Workforce and Economic Revitalization (POWER) grants are a congressionally funded initiative that targets federal resources to help communities and regions that have been affected by job losses in coal mining, coal power plant operations, and coal-related supply chain industries due to the changing economics of America's energy production. WECI, in coordination with the Ohio State University and the commissioners of the six counties served by WECI, will use the funds to conduct an initial competitive analysis of market conditions, as well as a market study to determine potential take-rate of service within the service territory. WECI will also develop capital expenditure cost estimates and high-level financial business plans. Portman issued the following statement:
“I’m pleased to see that ARC has awarded WECI with this $24,500 grant to study the feasibility of broadband installation in parts of Southeast Ohio. The internet has fundamentally transformed the 21st century economy, and rural Ohio must have access to fast, reliable broadband connections to ensure workers and small businesses are connected to the opportunities of today. I’m encouraged by this positive step towards expanding the broadband network, and will continue to work to promote greater rural access to speedy internet connections by encouraging public-private partnerships and supporting competition.”
NOTE: Earlier this year, Portman sent a letter to ARC urging the award of this grant to WECI.
Senator Portman has introduced the Revitalizing Underdeveloped Rural Areas and Lands (RURAL) Act to preserve jobs and encourage infrastructure development by expanding tax-exempt cooperative organizations’ access to government grants and assistance, including rural broadband grants and FEMA disaster relief.