YOUNG HARRIS, Ga. — On Wednesday, August 31, Blue Ridge Mountain EMC (BRMEMC) was awarded $5,250,000 in funding through the Growing Rural Economies with Access to Technology (GREAT) Grant program as part of North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper’s plan to invest nearly $2 billion in federal and state funds to close the digital divide in North Carolina. The GREAT Grant program provides matching grants to internet service providers and electric membership cooperatives that partner with individual N.C. counties to compete for funding to expand high-speed internet service to unserved areas of the state. BRMEMC will match 30% of the total $5.3 million and the state of North Carolina will cover the remaining 70%. All awards are contingent on final executed grant agreements with broadband provider partners. This brings BRMEMC’s GREAT grant funding total to $12.5 million with a recently announced $5.4 million project, as well as a $1.8 million completed project, both located in Clay County, NC.
Funds from this grant will be used to expand BRMEMC’s fiber-optic network in the general area of south central Cherokee County, including Martins Creek and the surrounding area, adding around 96 miles of mainline fiber. At project completion, approximately 1,800 additional largely-unserved residences and small businesses will have access to BRMEMC’s blazing fast and ultra-reliable fiber-optic internet service.
BRMEMC engineers will begin the planning and design of the project soon with construction beginning at a later date, depending upon material availability. As with previous expansion efforts, this project will be constructed in phases so that residents can begin receiving service as each section is completed.
“We are very fortunate to be awarded funding once again through the N.C. GREAT Grant program to get broadband to unserved or underserved areas like the Martins Creek community. This funding will help us close the gaps in our fiber-optic network and get our members the reliable high-speed internet service they need,” said Director of Broadband Alex King.
BRMEMC has applied for an additional N.C. GREAT Grant for the Tusquittee area of Clay County and also has an additional application pending in Cherokee County. While hopeful, we are unsure if and when either of these two remaining applications will be awarded. A new grant opportunity in our Georgia service area is opening up soon that BRMEMC also plans to apply for. This Georgia grant is not part of the N.C. GREAT Grant program.
To be eligible for a N.C. GREAT grant, all internet service provider applicants like BRMEMC must participate in the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP), which provides eligible low-income households a $30 per month discount on high-speed internet service, or provide access to a comparable low-cost program. Learn more about the ACP and how to get $30 per month reliable, high-speed internet packages offered by BRMEMC at brmemc.com/acp.
BRMEMC’s fiber-optic network now serves approximately 13,000 customers within its service territory and maintains over 990 miles of main line fiber
For more on Blue Ridge Mountain EMC, visit brmemc.com or follow BRMEMC on social media.
About Blue Ridge Mountain EMC
Blue Ridge Mountain Electric Membership Corporation is a member-owned electric cooperative headquartered in Young Harris, Georgia, serving nearly 49,000 members 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 $330 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. Blue Ridge Mountain Electric Membership Corporation is an equal opportunity provider, employer and lender.