Coast Electric Receives Grant for Rural Broadband Pilot Project in Pearl River County

Coast Electric Power Association has been awarded a grant that will bring high-speed internet service to residents in northern Pearl River County, the most un-served and under-served area of the cooperative’s service territory.

Earlier this month, Coast Electric, along with 14 other electric cooperatives in Mississippi, submitted grant applications for broadband high-speed internet pilot projects through the state, funded by the federal CARES Act coronavirus recovery plan.

The Mississippi State Legislature set aside $65 million in matching funds for broadband deployment by electric cooperatives throughout the state. This grant funding will be awarded through the Mississippi Public Utilities Staff.

Coast Electric’s pilot project will cost an estimated $15.3 million with $5.4 million of that cost covered by the grant.

This pilot project is a small-scale venture that will help the cooperative determine and evaluate the feasibility of providing broadband service to other areas of its service territory.

“We would like to thank Lt. Gov. Delbert Hosemann, Speaker of the House Philip Gunn, Sen. Joel Carter, chairman of the Senate Energy Committee and State Rep. Scott Bounds, chairman of the House Public Utilities Committee. We also want to thank Public Utilities Staff Executive Director Sally Doty and her entire staff for their hard work expediting the grant process,” said Coast Electric President and CEO Ron Barnes.

Coast Electric has been researching the possibility of offering high-speed internet service in Pearl River, Hancock and Harrison counties since the state legislature passed a bill in 2019 allowing electric cooperatives in Mississippi to offer broadband service. The company is currently asking its members to cast a vote to ratify an amendment to the cooperative’s Certificate of Consolidation which would allow Coast Electric to offer broadband high-speed internet, should the board of directors find it is in the best interest of the community. Members who wish to see the pilot project expanded into a full-scale plan for the cooperative’s service area should visit www.coastepa.com to cast their vote.

Members in northern Pearl River County served by the Derby or Crossroads substations who are interested in participating in the pilot project should fill out a sign up form at www.coastepa.com beginning today. Service will begin in those areas around October.

For more information about the possibilities of rural high-speed internet in Pearl River, Hancock and Harrison counties, visit https://coastepa.com/my-co-op/cebroadband/.

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