Great River Energy participates in broadband expansion efforts

High-speed broadband internet has become so common than many people take it for granted. Children use it to complete homework. Businesses rely on it to provide their customers with products and services.

It’s the backbone to communications and doing business in the 21st Century.

But for many households, business and communities dial-up internet is a reality. Just not by choice.

Last month, Great River Energy Telecommunications Engineer Michael Tate joined Minnesota Lt. Gov. Tina Smith, local government officials and community leaders on a panel at Becker Furniture World in Becker, Minn., discussing the importance of ensuring that Minnesotans have reliable, affordable broadband internet access.

The furniture store and neighboring businesses were part of the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) Border-to-Border Broadband Development Grant Program. The program provided a $150,000 grant to help develop broadband infrastructure for improved high-speed internet connections to businesses in the Becker Industrial Park.

Great River Energy got involved because it recently installed fiber optic line to connect two transmission substations to its network, which allows the cooperative to have more reliable communications with those substations. Because Great River Energy owns the fiber, Connexus Energy was able to share in the fiber and benefit from this project, as they also look to build out some of their substation communications.

To continue efforts to expand rural broadband internet access, Gov. Mark Dayton and Lt. Gov. Smith have proposed a $100 million state investment this year.

“With a goal to have high-speed, high-bandwidth connections into all 110 transmission substations throughout Minnesota, this investment proposal is an opportunity for Great River Energy to partner with other broadband stakeholders to aid in providing high-speed internet access to unserved and underserved member communities, while also building out our network,” Tate said.