YOUNG HARRIS, Ga. — Blue Ridge Mountain EMC (BRMEMC) recently activated fiber internet service to several member-customers in the Pine Log area of Clay County, North Carolina. On Tuesday, Jan. 4 BRMEMC personnel, county officials and the first Pine Log fiber customers celebrated this momentous occasion by holding a ribbon cutting ceremony in the parking lot of Pine Log Baptist Church.
In Jan. 2021, BRMEMC was awarded $1.3 million in funding through the Growing Rural Economies with Access to Technology (GREAT) Grant program as part of Gov. Roy Cooper’s $30 million initiative to expand internet access to rural areas. BRMEMC officially signed the grant agreement on Jan. 27, 2021. Funds from the grant were to be used to expand BRMEMC’s fiber optic network in the Pine Log area of Clay County, North Carolina. BRMEMC did apply for a large area in Cherokee County, North Carolina, but did not receive grant funding for that area.
According to the GREAT Grant agreement the project is to be completed within two years. BRMEMC immediately began the planning and designing phase of the project in Feb. 2021 and within a few months the build out started. Sub-contracting company, Graves Directional Drilling, was awarded a contract to assist in the Pine Log project after request for proposals were received and reviewed.
As of mid-month, 27 member-customers in the Pine Log area now have fast and reliable fiber internet service. 49 miles of main line fiber has been built, bringing this portion of the project to 97.66% complete. Drops to the home are being constructed. Now is the time for residents in the Pine Log area to sign up for fiber internet service. Signups can be done by calling (706) 379-3121 or emailing email@example.com.
“We are pleased to offer fiber internet service to an area that has been unserved. The Pine Log area helps us to continue closing the gap in our fiber optic network and get our members the reliable high-speed internet service they need. The GREAT Grant allowed us the funds to pull this together. I can’t thank our engineers, fiber crews and Graves Directional Drilling for their exceptional work on this significant project,” said Director of Broadband Alex King.
“Even before the pandemic, access to high speed internet across our community was a critical need for our students, parents, and teachers. It is vital to modern communication needs as well as education. It gives students and parents real-time access to their grades and allows them to watch informational videos, attend class sessions remotely, submit work, while also allowing unprecedented access to all of this to our parents. CCS is so thankful to live in a community where our local leaders and business partners, like Blue Ridge Mountain EMC, recognize our needs and work hard to eliminate equity issues like access to high speed internet for all citizens,” said Superintendent of Clay County Schools Dale Cole.
In 2021, BRMEMC completed 16 fiber expansion projects throughout its service territory in Georgia and North Carolina; and now serves approximately 12,000 fiber customers. These expansions brought the Co-op’s fiber network to 938 miles of main line fiber. 28 expansion areas are still on schedule for fiscal year 2021-2022. In the latter part of 2021, BRMEMC applied for additional grants to fund fiber expansions in unserved areas within its service territory in North Carolina and Georgia. Those grants have not yet been awarded and we hope to hear in early 2022 the award status.
For more on Blue Ridge Mountain EMC’s fiber service, visit brmemc.com/fiber and follow BRMEMC on social media.
About Blue Ridge Mountain EMC
Blue Ridge Mountain Electric Membership Corporation (BRMEMC) is a member-owned electric cooperative headquartered in Young Harris, Georgia, serving over 55,000 member-customers in Cherokee and Clay Counties in Western North Carolina, and Towns, Union and Fannin Counties in Northeast Georgia. Organized locally in 1937, BRMEMC has invested well over $300 million in physical infrastructure in its mission to provide reliable electric and broadband services to its members where those services would not otherwise have been available.