SB1413 and HB2304 were passed in 2021 by the Virginia General Assembly to leverage Virginia’s gird modernization to bridge the digital divide. The law allows Virginia’s investor owned utilities - Appalachian Power and Dominion Energy - to partner with localities and internet service providers to leverage utility-owned fiber for unserved areas of the state. This program can potentially reduce the cost for rural broadband deployment significantly. Now any internet service provider from anywhere in the world can partner with a utility “middle-mile” network and build networks in areas currently lacking access to high-speed broadband. Any profits generated from leasing this new capacity are then redirected back to electric ratepayers, meaning more broadband connections and potentially lower electric rates.
Dominion Energy has a site dedicated to the Rural Broadband Pilot Program.
The Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) has developed its certification process for determining designated project areas as unserved by broadband. More information on this certification process can be found on the DHCD Website for the Utility Leverage Program.
Localities and internet service providers interested in the program should reach out to the following:
Amanda Cox, Appalachian Power - email@example.com
Ed Diggs, Dominion Energy - firstname.lastname@example.org