In Colorado, the Delta-Montrose Electric Association (DMEA) saw record crowds at their Annual Meeting of Members. Hundreds of people came to check out the event on June 16th and try out the super fast speeds of Elevate Fiber, DMEA’s Fiber-to-the-Home (FTTH) project. The project will bring speeds of up to a Gigabit per second (Gbps) to DMEA’s 27,000 members.
During the event, members were able to check out the speed in person and preregister their homes and businesses. It requires a 12-month contract at a minimum of $49.99 each month according to the DMEA’s website. Residents can sign up at https://join.elevatefiber.com/.
Providing Internet access is a new role for the electric cooperative but DMEA has a plan: the co-op will build out the fiber incrementally. Phase I will encompass about 7,500 homes and businesses in Paonia, Cobble Creek, and the Montrose downtown business district. These locations are test cases of overhead and underground installations in urban and rural areas.
Celebrate the Times
The Montrose Press reported that over 500 people came to the meeting, making it one of the largest in recent memory. The Annual Meeting of Members celebrated the past accomplishments of the co-op and looked ahead to the fiber future. In addition to free hamburgers and hot dogs, and an appearance by former American Idol contestant Jeneve Rose Mitchell,* attendees could see live demonstrations of Elevate Fiber.
In December 2015, the DMEA Board of Directors unanimously voted to proceed with the FTTH project. At the time, they considered building a middle mile network, but wisely chose to deploy last mile connectivity to members' homes and businesses.
The June 16th event culminated with the announcement of the winners of the election to the co-op’s board of directors. Over 5,026 ballots were cast (in person and by mail). Although that’s a small percentage of their membership base, it’s actually a lot for a cooperative. The report Re-member-ing the Electric Cooperative from ILSR’s Energy Program found that 72 percent of electric cooperatives have less than 10 percent turn-out.
“A New Era for DMEA”
A week before the meeting, DMEA CEO Jasen Bronec explained to the Delta County Independent why this meeting would be different:
"This year's annual meeting is so much more than a traditional business meeting. It is truly a celebration of a new era for DMEA and the cooperative business model. We're no longer talking about bringing electricity to the far reaches of the county, but rather a new necessity -- high-speed Internet. DMEA's service will be the fastest available in the country."
* Former American Idol Contestant, Jeneve Rose Mitchell: A long lost relative of Christopher Mitchell? Hmmmmm...