NHEC Celebrates Start of Broadband Internet Service

NHEC Celebrates Start of Broadband Internet Service

LEMPSTER, NH – In the same town where eighty-one years ago New Hampshire Electric Cooperative (NHEC) began its mission to electrify rural New Hampshire, a small gathering of Co-op officials and guests marked the start of a new essential service being provided by NHEC – broadband Internet.

WATCH EVENT VIDEO

Thanks to the rapid construction of two fiber optic networks, nearly 900 NHEC members in four towns – Lempster, Clarksville, Colebrook and Stewartstown – now have access to high-speed Internet, that will provide service at upload/download speeds as high as 1 gigabit per second.

These initial broadband projects were supported by a $6.7 million grant from the State’s Connecting New Hampshire Emergency Broadband Program, and are the Co-op’s first steps towards its goal of ensuring all its members have access to the high-speed Internet service they need.

“I would like to thank the New Hampshire Electric Cooperative for partnering with the State to bring broadband to the communities of Colebrook, Clarksville, Stewartstown and Lempster. Nearly 900 homes and businesses will now have access to high-speed internet. My administration will continue to pursue opportunities to connect underserved communities in our State,” said New Hampshire Governor Chris Sununu in a written statement.

U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen noted NHEC’s history in a statement delivered to the Co-op Board of Directors and staff.

“Echoing the importance of rural electrification 80 years ago, broadband internet is similarly an essential driver of economic development and competitiveness.  From its first pole set in Lempster in 1939 to right now, the New Hampshire Electric Cooperative has brought the future to its members.  This bold venture is crucial for telemedicine, virtual learning and the online business activity so vital during the COVID-19 pandemic,” Shaheen wrote.

Joining NHEC and town officials, business partners and supporters at the December 15 outdoor gathering was Frank Edelblut, Commissioner of the New Hampshire Department of Education, who emphasized the critical importance of broadband Internet to New Hampshire students, many of whom are struggling in the absence of broadband service to keep up with online schooling in the COVID-19 era.

“Projects like this are going to make an important difference for our communities, and particularly our rural communities,” Edelblut said. “By bringing high-speed, high-capacity Internet into these communities, what we’ve really done is open up opportunities for the citizens and students of New Hampshire. Not only are they able to find more efficient, effective ways to access their education, we are opening up worlds to them through access to high-speed broadband Internet.”

Philip Tirrell, Chairman of the Lempster Board of Selectmen, stressed the importance of Internet connectivity to residents of rural Sullivan and Coos counties where the first NHEC members are receiving service.

“This year has been a change for the entire country,” he said. “Our students are working remotely every Wednesday, many of them without adequate internet coverage, and having a difficult time trying to participate…so today is historic for us. It will help launch us into everything this town needs for the future.”

NHEC Board Chair Tom Mongeon welcomed the arrival of broadband service as a “historic milestone” for members, who like their predecessors in 1939, had been bypassed for service by the existing providers. He also commended NHEC members for engaging with their cooperative and letting the Board know that they wanted NHEC to do more to provide broadband access.

“Our members are at the heart of all that we do as a cooperative and we would not be here today without your continued encouragement for us to do more to provide this essential service,” Mongeon said. “We hope you’ll continue to make your voice heard.”

The completion of NHEC’s initial broadband project required the cooperation and support of numerous partners, all of whom worked under tight deadlines to have service available to members before December 15, 2020, as required by the terms of the state of NH grant. NHEC President/CEO Steve Camerino cited the efforts of Tilson Tech, as well as Mission Broadband, Granite State Communications, and the National Rural Telecommunications Cooperative as key to the project’s success.

“Bringing this project from conception to completion in only six months was an incredible feat, and took the herculean efforts of an entire team,” Camerino said.

NHEC Broadband Executive Robert Cruickshank, hired recently to manage the Co-op’s broadband efforts, said NHEC would be working closely with towns, the state and federal government, contractors, and existing telecommunications providers as it builds out its broadband service. He said NHEC will continue to seek out federal and state funding for construction and praised the efforts of town governments and broadband advisory committees, many of whom have been advocating for increased access to broadband Internet for years.

“Our entry into broadband Internet isn’t just good news, it’s essential news, especially as we ramp down from all the pandemic activities that have kept us so cloistered. Broadband clearly is a service that’s on par with electricity and water, and we’re proud to be able to bring that to our communities,” said Cruickshank.

Eighty-one years ago this month, a newspaper account reported the festivities in Lempster that marked the start of NHEC’s electric service to rural New Hampshire. Leo Dwyer, NHEC Director and Chair of the Board’s Broadband Committee, noted that more than 300 people marched down Lempster Street to the beat of a 23-piece band to witness the setting of the first NHEC pole in a field belonging to dairyman and NHEC co-founder Fred Barton.

“It is only fitting that NHEC Broadband begins here in Lempster, as one day, in the not-too distant future, this new network will expand to be as widespread and integral to our rural communities as the electric system which grew from Fred’s field,” Dwyer said.

NHEC is a member-owned electric distribution cooperative serving 85,000 homes and businesses in 115 New Hampshire communities. To view a video of the December 15 event and for updates on NHEC’s broadband efforts please check our Broadband page. 

 

NHEC Hires Robert Cruickshank to Head Broadband Effort

PLYMOUTH, NH (November 19, 2020) – New Hampshire Electric Cooperative (NHEC) Board Chair Tom Mongeon is pleased to announce the hiring of Robert Cruickshank to lead NHEC’s efforts to ensure its members have access to world-class high-speed Internet service.

Cruickshank brings a wide range of broadband experience to NHEC, having worked as a senior executive for several telecommunications companies, including Vice President of Broadband Internet Access at CableLabs, where he led the team that created and certified the DOCSIS® world standard cable modem. He also served as Vice President of Engineering and interim Chief Technology Officer of Road Runner High Speed Online, where he was responsible for the design of broadband networks and data centers across the United States that tripled Road Runner’s business annually.

Cruickshank was also an Operations Architect and Senior Vice President of Customer Data, Information and Solutions at Cablevision Systems in Long Island, New York. In addition, Cruickshank has numerous patents in transactive energy management, telecommunications network management, and customer experience management. Most recently, he worked at the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden, Colorado. Cruickshank received his Ph.D. in Architectural Engineering from the University of Colorado and Master and Bachelor of Science Degrees in Mechanical Engineering from Worcester Polytechnic Institute.

“We are excited to have Robert join the NHEC team to lead our broadband efforts,” said Mongeon. “His experience and knowledge will be invaluable as NHEC accelerates forward to achieve our goal of ensuring all members and communities have access to the high-speed Internet service they need.”

“Just as important as food, water, and energy for many of our members, broadband is essential for communications and transforms how we live, educate, work, and play,” said Cruickshank. “I’m honored to lead the NHEC broadband team in advancing community livelihoods, resiliency, and sustainability.”

NHEC is embarking on a rapid fiber optic network build-out across nearly 40,000 utility poles and is working around the clock to ensure all its members will have access to affordable, reliable high-speed Internet as soon as possible in the years ahead. The Co-op was awarded a grant from the Connecting New Hampshire Emergency Broadband Fund to construct state-of-the-art fiber networks in Lempster, Colebrook, Stewartstown, and Clarksville, to provide the best Internet access available anywhere to over 900 currently unserved members. With hundreds of miles of newly installed fiber, these initial projects will be completed during the holidays and represent NHEC’s first steps towards its broader goal of ubiquitous broadband availability. In September, NHEC members voted overwhelmingly to amend the Co-op’s bylaws to give the organization’s Board of Directors greater flexibility to pursue grant opportunities and forge strategic partnerships. For more information and all the latest on NHEC broadband, please visit www.NHEC.com/broadband.

About New Hampshire Electric Cooperative

NHEC is a member-owned electric distribution cooperative serving 85,000 homes and businesses in 115 New Hampshire communities.

NHEC Members Approve Bylaw Amendments

PLYMOUTH, NH – Members of New Hampshire Electric Cooperative (NHEC) have approved amendments to the Co-op’s bylaws that will provide its Board of Directors with flexibility to consider all options on how to ensure its members have access to high speed internet service.

By a vote of 8,853 YES to 1,158 NO, the proposed bylaw changes were approved by 88.4% of members voting, exceeding the two-thirds majority required for passage. These bylaw changes give NHEC the ability to respond quickly and efficiently to federal, state, and local funding opportunities. The changes will also allow NHEC’s Board of Directors to enter into strategic partnerships and evaluate the best organizational structure to meet the goal of ensuring members have access to the broadband service they need.

“The members and communities NHEC serves need access to affordable, reliable, high speed internet,” said Tom Mongeon, Chair of NHEC’s Board of Directors. “Passage of these bylaw changes will allow the Board of Directors to fully evaluate all options and make the best decisions for our members. The level of participation in this election is a demonstration of our members’ interest in NHEC moving forward on broadband and a sign of the Co-op’s health. Just as it brought electricity to rural New Hampshire 80 years ago, NHEC is well positioned to provide high speed internet to these same areas of our state.”

NHEC’s Board of Directors has been evaluating various business models and funding opportunities over the past several months. Passage of these bylaw changes supports those efforts and will allow NHEC to take advantage of emerging opportunities and partnerships. For all the latest NHEC broadband news, visit www.nhec.com/broadband.

Special Meeting of Members 10/20/20 to Receive Election Results

OFFICIAL NOTICE

Meeting of New Hampshire Electric Cooperative, Inc. Members

10 A.M on Tuesday, October 20, 2020

New Hampshire Electric Cooperative’s (NHEC) Board of Directors have called a special meeting of the members for the purpose of receiving the results of the member vote on proposed bylaw amendments.

The special meeting will be held at 10 A.M. on Tuesday, October 20, 2020.  Given the current restrictions imposed by the coronavirus pandemic, this will be a virtual meeting with no physical location.  As was done with this year’s annual meeting, the special meeting will be held via Zoom Webinar.

CLICK HERE TO REGISTER TO ATTEND

Pursuant to NHEC’s bylaws, ballots were mailed to members in September. Members voted by mail or electronic ballot on whether NHEC’s bylaws should be amended to give the Co-op the ability to respond more quickly to emerging opportunities and also to give NHEC greater flexibility in the use of “controlled affiliates” in the exercise of its existing ability to facilitate or offer “other goods and services,” including broadband and/or telephone services, to its members.

No action will be taken at the meeting, other than the presentation of the voting results as required by the bylaws.  The agenda will be:

  1. Secretary’s report of a quorum
  2. Reading of the notice of meeting by the Secretary
  3. Presentation of results of the vote
  4. Adjournment

Voting Opens on Proposed NHEC Bylaw Amendments

PLYMOUTH, NH – Ballots are mailing today to members of New Hampshire Electric Cooperative (NHEC), who will decide if the company’s bylaws should be amended to make it easier for NHEC to provide access to broadband internet for its members.

Members have the option of returning a paper ballot, or voting securely online using the login codes provided in their paper ballot mailing. The deadline for returning ballots is October 14, 2020. The proposed amendments must be approved by a two-thirds majority of voters casting ballots.

The member vote marks a milestone in NHEC’s efforts to expand access to broadband internet to its members. The NHEC Board has explored ways it could help improve access to broadband internet for several years, but the COVID-19 pandemic has added urgency to those efforts. In response to NHEC members’ requests for help, the NHEC Board has voted unanimously to approve the proposed bylaw amendments.  The bylaw changes would allow the NHEC Board to move quickly and efficiently to pursue broadband opportunities.

A special meeting will be held at 10 A.M. on Tuesday, October 20, 2020 for members to receive the results of the vote.   Given the current restrictions on gatherings, the meeting will be held via Zoom Webinar. Registration and login information for NHEC members will be provided with the ballot and on NHEC’s website: www.nhec.com/broadband.