by Bill Scott, Great Lakes Energy President/CEO
Where We Come From
The electrical cooperative story is in many ways a classic underdog tale. In the early 1900s, power companies focused on urban areas when building their infrastructure, basically ignoring the farmers and those who lived in rural areas.
In the 1930s, the Rural Electrification Act paved the way for those in rural areas who had gone years without power to finally gain access to electricity. Those people banded together to set the poles and hang the lines, bringing electricity to themselves when no one else would.
This is how electrical cooperatives like Great Lakes Energy were formed and it is what still drives the heart of our business today.
Lack of Access
Eighty years later, we face similar challenges when it comes to high-speed internet; many urban areas have long had access to what is now becoming an essential utility, but most rural areas are left with few options. The problem is, without high-speed internet access, things like online education, working from home, contact with friends and family, and even online banking become difficult or impossible. In addition, rural communities miss out on economic advantages because businesses tend to locate where infrastructure like high-speed internet is readily available. Just like we did 80 years ago with electricity, we saw a chance as a cooperative to bridge today’s digital divide with Truestream fiber.
Last October, we connected our first home to Truestream fiber internet. The momentum has continued to grow. Over 200 members have had the opportunity to have this life-changing service installed in their homes in our Petoskey service area. We will see that number increase significantly by the end of the year as overhead and underground construction continues.
Expanding for Our Members
In March of this year, Great Lakes Energy announced the possibility of expanding Truestream to our Boyne service area, which includes rural parts of Antrim, Charlevoix, Cheboygan, Emmet, and Otsego counties. Members in our Boyne service area led the way in registering their interest on jointruestream.com and this was a factor in choosing the Boyne service area next. The preliminary engineering field work this spring will be followed by a second field study in early fall, and if findings are positive, we will explore budgeting for expansion of the fiber network in 2020, pending approval by our board of directors.
For those in other service areas anxiously awaiting the arrival of Truestream, we are looking forward to bringing Truestream to your area as much as you’re looking forward to having it. It’s never easy to wait for a needed service, but we appreciate your patience.
Until then, I encourage you to register your interest on jointruestream.com. When you voice your desire to see fiber internet in your specific community, it helps us understand where the demand is.
Our members are at the heart of everything we do, and we will continue to work diligently to provide you with the quality service you have come to know and expect for over the past 80 years.