Written By: Daniel Phillips, Telecom Sales Engineer

Georgia is the most recent state to pass legislation affecting electric cooperatives that want to provide broadband to their members. More than 100 electric cooperatives across the nation are currently deploying broadband, while more than 200 others are planning and conducting feasibility studies. Here is a summary of legislation passed in the southeast:

Alabama (SB 149, 2018; HB 400, 2019):

  • Establishes a grant program for cooperatives, corporations, limited liability companies, partnerships or other private business entities that provide broadband services.
  • Eligible projects must deliver a minimum of 25Mbps download and 3Mbps upload speeds.
  • Permits electric providers or affiliates to install, own, and operate broadband facilities.
  • May utilize and authorize others to utilize existing electric easements for broadband facilities.
  • May provide broadband services.

Georgia (SB 2, 2019):

  • May provide and operate broadband facilities and provide and use broadband services.
  • May furnish on a non-discriminatory basis broadband for resale or use by any communications service provider.
  • May create, fund, and operate a broadband affiliate that may directly or indirectly provide broadband facilities and broadband services.
  • Shall not cross-subsidize electricity, broadband, or gas activities.
  • Shall develop a cost allocation manual to be approved by the Public Service Commission.
  • Broadband rules shall be enforced by the Public Service Commission.
  • May use existing electric easements to provide or expand access to broadband services.

Mississippi (HB 366, 2019):

  • May establish, acquire, and wholly or partially own one or more broadband affiliates.
  • May own, lease, construct, maintain and operate a broadband system on the electric cooperative’s electric delivery system to provide broadband services to the public.
  • Shall not cross-subsidize electric and broadband services.
  • Shall conduct an economic feasibility study and adopt a plan to provide service to its entire certificated area.
  • Shall maintain the reliability of electric service.
  • May use the electric delivery system for the provision of broadband services without consent from property owners upon which the electric delivery system is located.

Tennessee (SB 1215, 2017):

  • May acquire, construct, own, or operate any system for the provision of telecommunications services within or without the service area of the cooperative.
  • May acquire, construct, own, or operate any system for the provision of broadband internet access, internet protocol-based video, video programming, or related or similar services within the service area of the cooperative.
  • Shall not cross-subsidize services.
  • Shall operate as a separate subsidiary and maintain separate financial records.
  • Broadband activities shall be subject to Tennessee regulatory authority in the same manner as other providers.

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