Pontotoc EPA only co-op in North Mississippi not moving forward to get part of $75 million in high speed internet grants
Pontotoc was the 2nd co-op electric power company to form in the country. The member owned EPA is not taking the same lead when it comes to broadband internet services to their member owners.
$75 million is being awarded to electric co-ops in the area in the form of grants for the installation of these services.
In April, the board of PEPA decided not to move forward with offering high speed internet.
“After careful and long deliberations, the Board of Directors of Pontotoc Electric Power Association has voted to discontinue the fiber-to-the-home project at this time,” the EPA said on their website at the time.
Fast forward to today, and there are hundred of millions of dollars in grants available and an even bigger need today than when the initial studies were done due to the need for remote work and remote learning.
In North Mississippi, here are the co-ops who applied for the available grant money and how much they are getting.
Public Service Commissioner Brandon Presley called this influx of money a once in a lifetime opportunity which is available to what Presley called one of the most disconnected areas anywhere.
“We are back to square one,” Presley said.
2 thoughts on “Pontotoc EPA only co-op in North Mississippi not moving forward to get part of $75 million in high speed internet grants”
Why are the board members doing that as bad as it is needed in their area?
The recent failure of the PEPA board to move forward in applying the 5.5 million dollars in the first round of grants to provide broadband for the PEPA customers is shameful. The board has never truly been interested in providing broadband. This is evident when you look back at the actions of the board.
When most other EPA’s around we announcing they were moving forward with their projects PEPA was quiet. At some point they must have been forced to do something because of all the attention this was getting. They waited months to put a survey in the back of a magazine many people did not get. Then they had a study done and held meetings to spread half truths and scare people with gloom and doom scenarios. They we asked about getting a study from Conexon one of the major companies working with many EPA’s in the nation. They offer a buy back option to protect the EPA should the project fail if they had done a study that showed a positive result. They never did that. They were ask why at the Pontotoc meeting at the Junior high auditorium. The response was that if it failed and Conexon bought it back then they would own it and PEPA would never be able to provide broadband again.
After months of silence in a special closed meeting they voted to not move forward with broadband. After a flurry of local and media attention they said they did not abandon broadband they just voted to suspend it until something changed. More meetings were held to discuss the issue, members offered their assistance to help in any way possible but were rejected. One special meeting was held at the Pontotoc office. There were several members there to attend the meeting. Because of Covid restrictions the members were forced to sit outside and watch on television while PEPA brought in special guest. These guest mostly politicians praised PEPA in front of the WTVA camera.
Then because of the hard work of Brandon Presley their was another grant proposed from the COVID money given to the state from the federal government. PEPA along with other state EPA’s went to Jackson with a plan to get a share of 75 million dollars in grant money. To get this money they would have to match the amount of money received. This was earmarked to run broadband to the most underserved customers first. The amount of money they were eligible for was 5.5 million dollars. There were other grands available to apply for and talk of additional grants.
In a special meeting called on short notice the PEPA manager laid out a doom and gloom future for broadband and PEPA. The board would not vote to apply for the grant money they had asked for. While most other EPA’s around us are going full steam with their projects and some are installing fiber already and one has already been hooking up customers PEPA customers are left without.