Kenergy, an electric distribution cooperative serving 14 western Kentucky counties is looking into offering broadband services. “There are several legislative and regulatory hurdles that we would have to clear before that opportunity would be available for us,” Kenergy President and CEO Jeff Hohn said.
Kenergy’s desire to provide broadband access emanates from the same factors that propelled the Rural Electrification Act into existence. For-profit electric utilities had little desire to extend electric service to sparsely populated areas. As a result, Congress passed the Rural Electrification Act in 1936 to provide loans so cooperatives could form and distribute electricity to unserved areas. The nation’s broadband providers have followed a similar path. As a result, significant portions of Kenergy’s service territory have been left in the dark as to broadband as they were to electricity 80 years ago.
“High-speed broadband can provide substantial value for our communities,” said Hohn. “These benefits include greater availability to information, online learning opportunities, economic growth, and increased efficiency for our local businesses.”
The cooperative is evaluating financing options and has filed a waiver with the Kentucky Public Service Commission. Kenergy will release more updates and details as they become available.