Power companies update PSC on broadband expansion efforts

Destiny Viator

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Appalachian Power, along with Wheeling Power, provided an update to the state Public Service Commission this week regarding a project to expand broadband access to underserved areas of Logan and Mingo counties.

In July, workers began constructing 361 miles of fiber optic cable. Design, engineering and necessary pole replacements for the project were completed earlier this year.

The goal is to provide more than 13,000 customers in the two county region with reliable internet.

“Installing fiber-optic cable gives us a robust communications platform for grid enhancements that improve service reliability, and also provides an opportunity to lease the excess middle-mile fiber to an internet service provider for broadband,” Appalachian Power President and COO Chris Beam said in a statement.

The plan calls for internet service provider GigaBeam Networks of Bluefield, to own, install and operate the last-mile infrastructure needed to deliver broadband services to customers in the area. GigaBeam will have access to the company’s middle-mile fiber optic infrastructure in phases so they can connect new broadband service customers on a rolling basis throughout the construction process.

Residential customer rates would increase, if approved, by 48 cents per month. It’s part of a proposed $3.6 million increase in the broadband surcharge rate. The change would take effect in March 2023.

Construction is expected to be complete in Dec. 2023.

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