A faster-than-expected rollout of high-speed internet service was one of the highlights of the Prince George Electric Cooperative annual meeting, held virtually on Sept. 27.

In his report to members, streamed on Facebook Live, President and CEO Casey Logan said progress at the cooperative’s wholly owned Ruralband is coming along well. Broadband service will be available to all interested PGEC members by the end of 2022, instead of 2025, as originally forecasted.

“That is a real huge accomplishment and I want to thank our staff for all the hard work and dedication they’ve done to expedite this process,” he said. Already, Logan said the number of fiber-to-the-home connections to members through Ruralband more than doubled in the last year.

Logan framed the fiber-to-the-home project as very similar to the cooperative’s origins in the 1930s. “What our members are faced with today, with the lack of high-speed internet access in many areas, is basically the same thing we had faced back when we needed electricity and the electric cooperatives stepped up to provide that service,” he said.

Additionally, Logan said a new substation in Garysville is proceeding on schedule and will reduce the exposure of members in that area to reliance on outside distribution facilities, thus improving reliability.

“This will be an 18-to-24-month construction process. We’re going to take our time and make sure we do it right to give our members what they deserve and the reliability they’ve come to expect from Prince George Electric Cooperative,” he said.

Three directors also were reelected at the annual meeting, held virtually and consistent with the cooperative’s value to put the safety of its employees and members first.

Reelected to three-year terms were Paul H. Brown, who represents District 2 (Blackwater/Brandon); Christopher T. Park, who represents District 5 (Waverly/Wakefield/Newville) and Denya Hankerson, who represents District 7 (Templeton).

Robert Hall, chief financial officer, delivered the financial report, which showed the cooperative is in a good financial position despite the effects of the pandemic, with an increase of $6.1 million in assets in the last year.

To wrap up the meeting, Crystal Johnson-Smith, vice president of human resources, announced the names of the two PGEC recipients of $1,000 college scholarships from the VMD Association and the 10 winners of $250 electric bill credits for submitting their proxy votes.

—Report by Steven Johnson, Vice President, Communications, VMDAEC