With the help of Firefly Fiber Broadband. Powhatan County continues to make strong progress toward extending high-speed internet coverage to all its residents and businesses.

On Sept. 14, U.S. Rep. Abigail Spanberger, Virginia state Sen. Ghazala Hashmi, and Virginia Del. Lee Ware joined Powhatan officials and representatives from Dominion Energy and Firefly, a wholly owned subsidiary of Central Virginia Electric Cooperative, to celebrate this initiative.

“During the COVID-19 pandemic, we saw how a lack of reliable access to high-speed internet puts Central Virginia families, students, small businesses, and farms at a competitive disadvantage,” Spanberger said. “To close this digital divide, we need to work across all levels of government — from the federal level to the county level — to make smart, responsible investments in expanded broadband internet connectivity. I am proud to join community and business leaders in Powhatan to mark these important milestones.”

U.S. Rep. Abigail Spanberger listens to a constituent during the broadband ceremony in Powhatan, Va. (Photo By: Laura Emery)

Hashmi stated: “Access to broadband and, most especially, to high-speed internet, is as essential now as access to electricity was a century ago. Our education systems rely on such access, and both small and large businesses cannot function without the full availability of digital tools and resources. The partnership between Firefly and Dominion Energy ensures that vital commerce, communication, healthcare, and education opportunities are accessible to all residents in Powhatan.”

Ware added; “Expanding broadband to rural and even some suburban areas has been among my top priorities as a legislator for many years. To see leading utilities of the private sector and government form an alliance, enabled by $800 million in taxpayer dollars, is a highlight of my years of public service. I commend our Board of Supervisors members and their staff for their own initiatives in making the imminent expansion of broadband in Powhatan a possibility.”

On Aug. 23, the Powhatan County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved a partnership with Firefly and Dominion Energy to provide broadband to unserved areas within Powhatan County.

Firefly President and CEO Gary Wood discusses plans to work with Powhatan County officials and Dominion Energy to expand access to broadband. (Photo By: Laura Emery)

As part of the project, Firefly and Powhatan are seeking grant funds from the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development through its Virginia Telecommunications Initiative. If successful, VATI grant funds would be used to offset nearly 30% of the cost for Firefly to build fiber in the county.

The remaining 70% would be funded between Powhatan County and Firefly, with Powhatan contributing up to $3,024,000 towards the project.

“Broadband has quickly become an essential utility, much like electricity,” added Gary Wood, Firefly president and chief executive officer. “Firefly is excited to partner with Dominion Energy and Powhatan County in this project to bring universal broadband access to Powhatan County with a fiber-to-the-home network that will bring world-class internet service to unserved locations.”

—Report by Melissa Gay, Communication and Member Services Manager, Central Virginia Electric Cooperative

Above Photo: Federal, state and local officials and dignataries gathered Sept. 14 in Powhatan, Va., to mark the expansion of broadband in the county. (Photo By: Laura Emery)