left to right: LCPUD Commissioner Michael Kelly, LCPUD Commissioner Ed Rothlin, USDA Washington State Director Helen Price Johnson, LCPUD General Manager Chris Roden, and LCPUD Information Systems and Telecommunications Manager Jeff Baine accept the Partn
On Wednesday, October 12, Lewis County PUD had a ribbon cutting for their new broadband service to the Boistfort Valley and Rainbow Falls extension. Why is this a big deal, because for so long areas that are outside of the Twin Cities have not had great internet service. Now, the PUD is getting into the broadband business.
The Lewis County PUD is pleased to announce the beginning of the Digital Access To All (DATA) plan with the construction of a publicly owned, open access, rural broadband network. The DATA plan includes 17 service zones which encompasses all of Lewis County and would serve approximately 29,000 locations. The estimated cost for the entire plan, which includes fiber-to-the-premises network infrastructure, is more than $104 million.
The start of this plan opens with a project that will bring fiber to the Boistfort Valley and the Rainbow Falls State Park with construction to begin this month.
To celebrate this occasion, the PUD hosted a Fiber Connection Ceremony on Wednesday, October 12 at the Main Street Substation in Chehalis.
"This is an exciting time for the PUD and our community as we begin the next phase of constructing our community owned broadband network," said PUD General Manager Chris Roden. "We are incredibly grateful to all our partners who are helping make this project a reality."
The USDA's $3 million dollar grant will allow construction of the broadband infrastructure from Chehalis to the Boistfort Valley. This will provide the backbone network that will give access to nearly 1,200 residences. Additionally, the Washington State Public Works Board's Broadband Program provided support with $502,862 to extend the network west toward Pe Ell to Rainbow Falls State Park.
"We're solving broadband for people that have really no broadband and no way of defending themselves because of no reporting mechanisms," said NoaNet Senior Executive Director of Infrastructure Strategy Chris Walker. "So, what an incredible impact this project is going to have on the local community."
Thanks to the grant award made possible by USDA Rural Development Community Connect Grant, as well as additional funding from the Washington State Public Works Board, two communities in western Lewis County will soon see high speed internet directly to their homes.
This will not be the only area the PUD will be looking into to help local families. Vader is not fully funded at a cost of $4,499,131. Winlock is WSBO funded, which ToledoTel will be moving forward with. Several new areas will be receiving broadband which has been needed for years.
PUD Commissioner Michael Kelly stated, "This ribbon cutting ceremony kicking off the first of a multi phase County wide Broadband deployment marks a historic moment in Lewis County. When I ran for office in 2020 during the beginning of the pandemic one of the number one things people were desperate to have was access to high speed internet. I made it one of my top priorities after winning my election. It is a great feeling knowing that this first phase will positively benefit the lives of thousands of Lewis County residents. The next phase that we have received grant funding for is the Elbe, Ashford, and Mineral areas. The PUD is actively working on securing additional grant funding to ultimately build the broadband network out across all PUD serviced areas in Lewis County."
Lewis County Commissioner Dr. Lindsey Pollock stated, "Access to broadband is key to rural prosperity. This partnership between USDA, Lewis County PUD, and local internet service providers is the next big step in Lewis County showing others how we get things done."