High-Speed Internet Coming to Acworth and Sandwich

 

PLYMOUTH, NH (July 22, 2021) – New Hampshire Electric Cooperative (NHEC) is moving forward with plans to make high-speed internet service available to more than 1,500 homes and businesses in the towns of Sandwich and Acworth.

NHEC, through its subsidiary NH Broadband, will construct fiber optic networks to provide high-speed internet service throughout both communities. Service is expected to be available early 2022. NHEC will be communicating directly with residents of both towns in the coming months and will be providing updates at www.NHBroadband.com.

The project in Sandwich would be supported by federal funding that U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen and Congressman Chris Pappas are working to secure. If received, the funding will help reduce the cost of construction.

Residents of Sandwich and Acworth can pre-register for service and learn more about the project at www.NHBroadband.com. NH Broadband offers internet service options that are designed to meet customers’ needs today and into the future with symmetrical Gigabit upload and download speeds available.

NH Broadband was founded in 2020 to meet the critical need of NHEC’s members for high-speed internet access. Since then, NH Broadband has made high-speed internet service available to more than 1,000 NHEC members in Lempster, Clarksville, Colebrook and Stewartstown.

“Providing high-speed internet access to the residents and businesses of Sandwich and Acworth are the next steps towards NHEC’s goal of ensuring that all our members have access to the reliable broadband they need,” said Jeff Morrill, Chair of the Co-op’s Board of Directors. “The Co-op is moving quickly to expand our existing networks and take advantage of emerging funding opportunities. We appreciate Senator Shaheen and Congressman Pappas’sefforts to secure funding to support this project and the hard work and dedication of the residents in both towns.”

“We appreciate the Co-op’s recognition of the Town’s dire need for 21st-century internet service and the citizen committee’s efforts in making it happen,” said Joanne Haight Chair of the Sandwich Board of Selectmen.

“Acworth is pleased to announce that NHEC will be providing high-speed broadband internet to our town,” said Gregg Thibodeau, Acworth Broadband Committee Lead. “We have been looking at options to bring broadband service to the town due to the increase in demand for broadband service and the COVID pandemic. NHEC through their due diligence in proving their ability and obtaining federal funds quickly became our number one choice to partner with. Our town’s experience with NHEC as a utility company has been great, their broadband architecture is state of the art, their broadband service costs are competitive and we received really good feedback from the work they are doing rolling out broadband in Lempster.”

NHEC’s expansion decisions are made based on the availability of grants, proximity to existing networks, and interest expressed by residents. NHEC has reached out to communities throughout its electric service territory to coordinate efforts and achieve the shared goal of providing high-speed internet access to the unserved and underserved areas of New Hampshire.

NHEC Hosts Vice President Kamala Harris for Broadband Listening Session

NHEC Hosts Vice President Kamala Harris for Broadband Listening Session

PLYMOUTH, NH – Today, United States Vice President Kamala Harris visited the Plymouth headquarters of New Hampshire Electric Cooperative (NHEC) to discuss the Co-op’s efforts to expand high-speed internet access to rural New Hampshire and highlight federal funding opportunities in the American Jobs Plan to support future investments.

Vice President Harris was joined by United States Senator Maggie Hassan, and met with NHEC representatives and Lempster Select Board Chair Phil Tirrell. Last year, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and appeals from its members, NHEC secured two grants from the Connecting New Hampshire Emergency Broadband Expansion Program. Those grants supported the construction of fiber-optic networks in Lempster, Colebrook, Stewartstown and Clarksville. Through its subsidiary NH Broadband, NHEC is now providing nearly 1,000 previously unserved members with access to high-speed internet.

Recalling NHEC’s mission to provide electricity to rural New Hampshire some 80 years ago, Vice President Harris encouraged the same spirit in extending rural access to broadband internet.

“In 1939 that pole was built and it’s still there,” she said, referring to the Co-op’s first electric pole set in Lempster, NH 82 years ago, “and why we’re here today is because of what you have been doing in this co-op.”

Part of the American Jobs Plan includes a proposed $100 billion in spending to increase access to broadband internet, Harris said.

“It’s the same thing that our country decided to do in 1936, saying let’s get electricity to everybody, and rural America should not be left out of that priority…This really is an incredible moment in our history. Not unlike what our country did with electricity, we can do with broadband, so let’s get it done.”

NHEC’s Board of Directors has adopted a goal of ensuring that all Co-op members have access to affordable, reliable, high-speed internet. NHEC is working to expand its current fiber optic networks, and identify additional funding opportunities and strategic partners.

“Thank you Vice President Harris for coming to Plymouth and putting a spotlight on the need for rural internet access,” said Tom Mongeon, Chair of NHEC’s Board of Directors. “It is encouraging to see attention being giving to the needs of our members at the highest levels of government. NHEC exists to serve our members and we are working hard to ensure that they have access to the high-speed internet they need.”

Steve Camerino, NHEC’s President and CEO, highlighted the Co-op’s work to provide broadband access to its members and stressed that electric cooperatives are ideally suited to help bridge the rural digital divide.

“We were honored to host Vice President Harris and appreciate her taking the time to learn more about NHEC and our work to expand broadband,” said Camerino. “Access to affordable, reliable, high-speed internet service is critical to our members and the communities we serve. Federal funding is vital to support our efforts, and it is exciting to hear about the opportunities to expand rural broadband in the American Jobs Plan.”

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 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