This is the transcript for episode 423 of the Community Broadband Bits podcast. In this episode, Christopher Mitchell speaks with Ron Barnes, CEO of Coast Electric Power, and Jon Chambers, partner at Conexon, about the unprecedented growth of electric cooperative broadband networks in Mississippi and the state's use of CARES Act funds for broadband grants. Listen to the episode, or read the transcript below.
Ron Barnes: The bottom line for Coast Electric, and I believe for the other 14 systems that are in this CARES Act, is that it's the right thing to do for our membership.
Ry Marcattilio-McCracken: Welcome to episode 423 of The Community Broadband Bits Podcast. This is Ryan Marcattilio-McCracken here at The Institute for Local Self-Reliance. Today, Christopher talks with Ron Barnes, President and CEO of Coast Electric Power, an electric cooperative in the Biloxi, Mississippi area, and Jon Chambers, partner at Conexon, a consulting agency, working with rural electric cooperatives to bring fiber to communities around the country.
Ry Marcattilio-McCracken: They talk about how Mississippi went from having laws against electric cooperatives doing broadband to homes as recently as January of 2019 to now having 15 co-ops, getting grants from the state to build fiber immediately with CARES Act funding.
Ry Marcattilio-McCracken: They talk about how co-ops actually approached the state with the plan and took the lead in organizing to connect rural parts of Mississippi, and what that means for digital equity and inclusion since those cooperatives are required to build to all of their customers by law. Now here's Christopher talking with Ron Barnes and John Chambers.
Christopher Mitchell: Welcome to another episode of The Community Broadband Bits Podcast. I'm Christopher Mitchell at The Institute for Local Self-Reliance in Saint Paul, Minnesota, back with a repeat guest and a guest who we have not spoken with before. So let me start by introducing Ron Barnes, the president and CEO of Coast Electric Power, a rural electric cooperative in the Biloxi area of Mississippi. Welcome to the show, Ron.
Ron Barnes: Glad to be here. Thank you for...Read more