Project underway

Courtesy Photo

Jasper County REMC contractors splice optical fibers to enable the SmartGrid Ring to communicate with all of the cooperative’s substations.

JASPER COUNTY — Jasper County REMC has been hard at work to complete the SmartGrid Ring, using a technology that is setting the foundation for rural high-speed internet.

The cooperative said it is committed to providing better internet access to the community. This phase of the project is a stepping-stone to do just that.

Going through phases

Back in March of this year, Jasper County REMC began the first phase of their high-speed internet project — implementing the SmartGrid Ring. Currently, the crews are working to enhance existing substation communications infrastructure and install new infrastructure in areas of need. Jasper County REMC is excited to announce they are on track with this part of the project and expect the SmartGrid Ring to be completed by the end of this year.

“Once the SmartGrid Ring is completed and operational for the electric side of the co-op’s operations, we will be working to deploy rural high-speed internet services over the next five years or so,” said Seann Perry, the project’s operation manager.

A communal effort

The cooperative has seen a positive response from its members. Especially those members who have graciously allowed access to their property so that construction can continue on the SmartGrid Ring. The community has shown excitement about the project and recognizes the need for higher speed connections.

In short supply

While the project has made great strides, it has not been without several challenges. These challenges include nationwide material shortages, shipping delays and some rising costs due to the demand for fiber across the United States.

Perry is well aware of these obstacles in completing the project on time. “We’re experiencing material wait times of up to 50 weeks. We have really had to think ahead in our planning to keep it on track,” said Perry.

Hopeful for what’s to come

While Jasper County REMC has faced challenges, they do not outweigh the benefits this project will bring to the community. With the SmartGrid Ring well on its way to completion, the cooperative remains hopeful that they can enter the next phase of this project in the first quarter of 2022.

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