AEC is Awarded Multi-Million Dollar Broadband Grant from the State of Tennessee

The State of Tennessee awarded Appalachian Electric Cooperative (AEC) with a broadband grant for a total $8,631,244.48 as part of the Tennessee Emergency Broadband Fund-American Rescue Plan (TEBF-ARP). AEC will receive funding throughout and upon completion of the project.

AEC General Manager Greg Williams states, “We’re very excited about receiving news from the State of Tennessee Economic and Community Development office that AEC’s broadband grant application has been awarded. These funds will help close the digital gap to over 4,000 AEC members who are currently unserved or underserved in parts of Jefferson, Hamblen and Grainger counties. Many of our members have patiently waited for this news, and we share in their excitement of knowing that AEC can now begin the process of bringing fiber and Trilight service to their homes and businesses.”

This grant will be utilized to expand AEC’s fiber services to Swannsylvania (South of Douglas Lake), Swanns Chapel, portions of White Pine, Talbott, the Macedonia area in Hamblen County and portions of Bean Station, which include Briar Fork, Miller Hollow Road, Ned Clark Road and Meadow Branch Road.

Blake McNew, AEC’s Director of Fiber Services states, “We’re extremely grateful for TNECD’s investment in the AEC membership. Members located in the grant area can expect broadband availability to their home or business over the next 6-9 months as AEC builds 330 miles of fiber to connect them to the network.”

AEC submitted the grant application to TNECD in March 2022. They were chosen as a finalist in July 2022 and will be awarded the grant this month. They were selected based solely on the needs of our members in these areas. Approximately 4,400 homes were lacking access to a broadband connection of 100Mbps/20Mbps, with many homes even lacking access to a 25Mbps/3Mbps connection. The state will be awarding between $400-450 million to internet service providers across the state. They received $1.37 billion in applications, and AEC was selected as one of the winners.

AEC Board President Dale Fain states, “We’re thrilled to be awarded with such a substantial grant. This will save AEC from having to finance the project, and it will allow us to keep costs down for this significant investment. Our goal is always to serve our members the best way we know how and to be good stewards of the finances entrusted to us. We are very grateful so many of our underserved areas will see the benefit of broadband accessibility within just a few months.”

More about Appalachian Electric Cooperative

AEC receives power from TVA at four delivery point substations and operates 12 distribution substations across the service area, serving portions of Jefferson, Hamblen, Hawkins, Grainger and Sevier counties. AEC serves over 49,000 members across 2,729 miles of utility line with a peak system demand of 330 MW.