Goochland County announced progress toward extending broadband coverage to all of its residents and businesses.
Today, Senator Mark Peake and Delegate Lee Ware joined Goochland officials and representatives from Firefly Fiber BroadbandSM, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Central Virginia Electric Cooperative, Dominion Energy, and Rappahannock Electric Cooperative to celebrate this initiative.
In a joint statement, Senator Mark Peake and Delegates John McGuire and Lee Ware said: “We applaud Goochland County and their partners’ efforts to bring needed broadband access to all of its citizens. Expanding this critical service will allow homes and businesses in the county to function in today’s digital world, and we are excited to see this partnership moving forward.”
Guests and officials gathered at Goochland’s Fire-Rescue Station 6, a location that is served by CVEC and will benefit from the installation of fiber to its premise. “Goochland’s first responders need communication that is guaranteed by high-speed internet to respond to the critical needs of its residents,” states Gary Wood, President and CEO of Firefly. “Universal broadband for unserved homes and businesses will transform lives in Goochland and Firefly is proud to be a part of the solution.”
Three announcements were made regarding broadband access in the County. The first two announcements were related to fiber construction projects starting before year end. All CVEC members in Goochland will have access to internet from Firefly regardless of funding, but Shannon Hill residents discovered today that they will receive it faster than anticipated. The preliminary electric make ready construction has been completed and fiber construction will begin in the next few months. In addition, Goochland officials announced that the ReConnect grant, won by Firefly with local matching fund support from Goochland, will jumpstart the fiber build in portions of the county later this year. The ReConnect grant project area build will be 100% underground. In total, these two construction projects will make gigabit speed internet service available to almost 3,400 residents of Goochland by passing almost 1,400 locations.
Finally, Goochland officials reiterated their commitment to their partnership with Firefly Fiber BroadbandSM, Dominion Energy, and Rappahannock Electric Cooperative to provide broadband to unserved areas within the county.
Goochland is one of thirteen central Virginia counties included Firefly’s Regional Internet Service Expansion (RISE) project, a larger regional broadband initiative. As part of the project, Firefly and Goochland are seeking grant funds from the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development through its Virginia Telecommunications Initiative (VATI). If successful, VATI grant funds would be used to offset nearly 30% of the $17.5 million cost to build fiber in the county. The remaining 70% would be funded between Goochland County and Firefly, with Goochland contributing up to $3,637,500 towards the project.
In a joint statement, Goochland County Board of Supervisors Susan Lascolette and Neil Spoonhower said: “Expansion of broadband access to all of our citizens has been the number one priority for Goochland County. We are incredibly proud of this partnership that marks a major milestone in the county’s efforts to ensure reliable affordable high-speed broadband internet service for all households and businesses.”
Preliminary planning for this regional project has identified 2,765 locations in the county as being unserved without access to speeds of at least 25 mbps download and 3 mbps upload, and the initial design includes 276 miles of fiber optic cable to be installed in the county to make service available to those locations. Goochland residents will receive further information about work once the schedule is set for the first phase of the fiber build.
“The investments announced today by Goochland County in partnership with Firefly, Dominion, Rappahannock Electric Cooperative, and the Commonwealth, are exactly what Congress had in mind when we passed the American Rescue Plan as well as increased funding for the ReConnect Program,” said U.S Congresswoman Abigail Spanberger. “As we look towards our nation’s economy recovery, now is the time to reinvest in our communities and close the digital divide once and for all. The recent announcement of ReConnect funding for Goochland as well as the county’s participation in Firefly’s RISE Project with support from funds provided through the American Rescue Plan is a tremendous step in that direction that will mean new jobs, economic growth, and innovation. I look forward to continuing to support the work of our localities to close the digital divide in Congress, and I applaud the work of all involved in these critical projects.”
“Broadband access is a vital service, and we’re excited to work with our partners in Goochland to help bridge the digital divide,” said Charlene Whitfield, senior vice president – Power Delivery, Dominion Energy.
Dominion Energy is installing fiber in rural areas as it moves forward with efforts to transform Virginia’s energy grid. This fiber capacity can be used for operational needs as well as broadband access, reducing broadband deployment costs for internet service providers. For this project, Firefly will lease the “middle-mile” fiber to be installed by Dominion Energy in the company’s electric service area in Goochland. The project partners are working toward a phased approach; for Dominion Energy Virginia, that will include an application to the State Corporation Commission (SCC) to seek regulatory approval. The SCC has already approved three of the Company’s rural broadband projects – in Botetourt and Surry Counties and on Virginia’s Northern Neck.
About Dominion Energy
More than 7 million customers in 16 states energize their homes and businesses with electricity or natural gas from Dominion Energy (NYSE: D), headquartered in Richmond, Va. The company is committed to sustainable, reliable, affordable and safe energy and to achieving net zero carbon dioxide and methane emissions from its power generation and gas infrastructure operations by 2050. Please visit DominionEnergy.com to learn more.
About Firefly Fiber Broadband
Headquartered in Palmyra, VA, Firefly Fiber BroadbandSM is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Central Virginia Electric Cooperative. Firefly offers lightning-fast internet via fiber to the premise that is reliable and priced fairly with no hidden equipment costs or special introductory pricing that increases the base cost of phone or internet later. Firefly has no contracts, no data caps or slowdowns and offers symmetrical upload and download speeds. Firefly Light offers 100 mbps for $49.99; Firefly Flash offers 1 gbps for $79.99; and Firefly Voice is $34.99 with a $5.00 discount when bundled with the internet. For more information, visit www.fireflyva.com