Jackson County REMC receives $74 million loan for project


Jackson County REMC will use a $74 million loan from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to finance a project to provide high-speed broadband service to its customers.

The project, announced in June 2017, involves installing fiber optics line on existing utility poles and then to the homes of its 20,000-plus customers. The work has a $59,331,071 price tag.

The remainder of the USDA Rural Development electric loan, announced Tuesday, will be used to build 60 miles of electrical line, improve 10 miles of existing electrical line and make other system improvements, said Matt Persinger, the utility’s technology manager.

Construction of the smart grid project, operating as Jackson Connect, started in October 2017 and won’t be completed for about five years.

“We’re hoping to do it faster, but it depends upon a lot of things,” Persinger said. “We can’t do it fast enough (for some).”

The project, which created five jobs in 2017, is expected to lead to the creation of five more jobs this year.

Within the coming week, some REMC customers in areas near the company headquarters at 274 E. Base Road in Brownstown will be connected to the system.

“They will be fully functional and part of our testing process to make sure everything is working OK,” Persinger said. “A full rollout should begin in May.”

Jackson County REMC serves more than 20,000 consumers across 10 counties in southern Indiana, spread over 2,925 miles. Its consumer base includes more than 1,000 commercial and industrial and 80 irrigation consumers in Bartholomew, Brown, Clark, Jackson, Jefferson, Jennings, Lawrence, Monroe, Scott and Washington counties.

Tuesday’s USDA announcement involved $276 million for 14 projects that will build nearly 1,000 miles of line and improve 733 miles of line to meet current and future needs of rural businesses and residents.

Besides Indiana, projects in Colorado, Georgia, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Minnesota, Missouri, North Dakota, Ohio and Virginia received loans. The loans also will support $65 million in smart grid technologies to help rural electric utilities reduce outages and integrate new systems.

“Investing in our nation’s electric infrastructure is fundamental for rural economic growth,” Sonny Perdue, secretary of the USDA said in a news release. “USDA’s longstanding partnerships with rural electric cooperatives help ensure that rural areas have affordable, reliable electric service. These investments also increase efficiency and productivity for businesses and residents and support the quality of life in rural America.”

Jackson Connect is owned and operated by Jackson County REMC, formerly known as Jackson County Rural Electric Membership Corp. The member-owned corporation was established in 1937 to provide electricity to rural areas of Jackson County.

No posts to display