Blue Ridge Mountains

HEMC Set to Pursue Fiber Expansion Following Passage of Senate Bill 2

Posted: June 1, 2019
Brad Hicks
Brad Hicks

During the 2019 session of the Georgia General Assembly, lawmakers passed Senate Bill 2, which gives statutory authority to the state’s 41 electric cooperatives to provide broadband services. This legislation, championed by Sen. Steve Gooch (R-Dahlonega) and Rep. Jay Powell (R-Camilla), removes key barriers for EMCs, their communities and members.

Senate Bill 2:

  • Allows EMCs to provide retail broad- band services through an affiliate;
  • Allows EMCs to lease excess fiber capacity to a third-party retail broad- band provider;
  • Allows EMCs to seek grants and loans (federal, state or other sources) specifically for rural broadband;
  • Requires cross-subsidization safe- guards that protect EMC electric consumers as well as ensuring a fair competitive market with existing providers; and
  • Allows all existing EMC electric easements to also be used for communications purposes.

“We would like to thank the legislators and Gov. (Brian) Kemp for their initiative to bring broadband connectivity to rural Georgia,” said Habersham EMC CEO Brad Hicks. “It was a team effort with grassroots support from our membership.”

HEMC Trailwave Fiber Optic Services

Additionally, in March, the Habersham EMC Board of Directors approved a three-year business plan for the Trailwave fiber-optic service to expand in support of our community.

“The decision of the board to allow HEMC to continue smart growth of the fiber-optic Internet business shows our commitment to the community,” says Hicks. “Development of the business plan was underway before the recent rural broadband state legislation. The business plan was developed in anticipation of the passage of SB2, therefore we are confident we will meet the requirements of the legislation.”