As 2023 quickly nears its end, I wanted to recap the year and talk about what’s next. As you might have noticed, we’re doing a little project to string up some fiber optic lines and connect a few people to the internet.
Of course, I jest. This has been anything but a “little” project. Building over 600 miles of fiber optic lines and starting up an internet service provider to bring world-class broadband service to our community has been an extremely challenging endeavor. But I’m happy to report that we are making great progress.
About a month ago, we connected our 2,000th internet subscriber. Based on the number of you that have preregistered for our service, we now have about half of you connected to our ultra-fast service. That may lead one to believe that we are only about half done with our project, but the number of subscribers is not a good measure for that.
There was a substantial amount of work that had to take place well before we connected anyone. So we are actually a lot closer to the end than we are the middle and, by our best estimates, should have the bulk of those that preregistered connected by the middle of 2024.
Don’t misread me though, there will still be ongoing work after that to connect additional areas that we had to bypass during our first round of construction, and it is still difficult to give a definitive timeline on those areas. We thank you for your ongoing patience as we diligently work to bring this project to fruition.
Like the past couple of years, because we are still expending our resources on construction costs, we will delay the retirement of capital credits for one more year. As construction wraps up next year, we are optimistic that we will return to our normal cycle of capital credit retirements and that next year at this time you will again see a small credit back on your electric bill.
I also want to reassure those of you who may be skeptical about this project. If you are a member of this cooperative who has decided not to connect to our fiber, you may be wondering why your electric capital credits are affected. I want to reiterate that this is only a delay, and the total amount you are allocated is not affected by our fiber project. Each division, electric and fiber, is accounted for separately. The electric system rates are not affected by the fiber project and, likewise, fiber rates are not affected by the work we do on the electric system.
Whether you receive fiber service from us or not, we hope you are proud to be a member of a cooperative that is locally governed and puts the needs of its members above all else. The decision not to distribute capital credits this year is a reflection of our dedication to the betterment of our community. Our investment in broadband infrastructure is an investment in the future of our members, ensuring that you have the tools you need to thrive in an increasingly digital world.
Thank you for allowing us to serve you this past year. We look forward to continuing our mission to improve the quality of life in our communities next year and into the future.