An increasing number of local communities in Colorado are finding ways to improve rural connectivity. The Delta Montrose Electric Association (DMEA), a cooperative bringing electricity to approximately 28,000 members in southwest Colorado, is in the midst of Elevate, their Fiber-to-the-Home (FTTH) network that will connect all co-op members. We’ve brought co-op Board Members John Gavan and Brad Harding on the show this week to talk about the project and DMEA.
This conversation describes how and why the project got started and the plans for the future. Cooperatives are member organizations and this story is an example of a member-driven project that started when the community chose to improve their future. Significant employment losses in the region had the potential for widespread ripple effects and community members saw high-quality connectivity as a must for economic development.
John and Brad also discuss how the project is part of a larger effort to cope with the loss of electricity demand due to local job losses in the coal industry and a desire to stay on the cusp of innovation. With new infrastructure, the cooperative is investigating ways to offer such enhancements as electric vehicle charging and energy storage. They’ve also been taking a second look at local renewable energy generation facilities and wholesale contracts. DMEA and its members are taking new steps in self-reliance.
DMEA has produced a short video on the Elevate project:
Read more about how cooperatives are bringing broadband to rural America in our 2017 policy brief, Cooperatives Fiberize Rural America: A Trusted Model For The Internet Era.
Thanks to Arne Huseby for the music. The song is Warm Duck Shuffle and is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution (3.0) license.
Image of the Gunnison River running through the Black Canyon of the Gunnison in Montrose County by Terry Foote, licensed through Creative Commons (CC BY-SA 4.0).