TVEPA receives $4 million grant to expand high-speed fiber internet in area

By SPECIAL TO THE SUN-SENTINEL,

BATESVILLE — The Tallahatchie Valley Electric Power Association board of directors has announced that TVEPA has received a $4 million grant to expand its high-speed fiber internet access to more members in North Mississippi.

The award comes as part of the $65 million in grants announced Tuesday by the Mississippi Public Utilities Staff.  In all, 15 electric cooperatives were awarded grants to deploy fiber to unserved and underserved areas of rural Mississippi. TVEPA will match the $4 million grant for a total investment of $8 million through the MS Electric Cooperatives Broadband COVID-19 Act.

“These grant funds will make a tremendous impact on TVEPA’s ability to further deliver fiber-based broadband internet service to the most rural parts of the service area through TVIfiber” said TVEPA and TVIfiber CEO Brad Robison. “We have been truly blessed to receive such overwhelming support for this project and I think that support underscores just how critical broadband is for the people in our part of Mississippi.”

The Mississippi Legislature passed Senate Bill 3046 — The Mississippi Electric Cooperatives Broadband COVID-19 Act — earlier this year. The money became available after the state received funding from the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act.

“We want to thank the state leadership, Governor Reeves, Lt. Gov. Delbert Hosemann, Speaker of the House Philip Gunn, Sen. Joel Carter, chairman of the Senate Energy Committee and State Rep. Scott Bounds, chairman of the House Public Utilities Committee for designating this money to such a worthwhile cause. We also thank the Public Utilities Staff Executive Director Sally Doty and her entire staff who worked very hard in expediting the grant process,” Robison added.

TVEPA and its subsidiary TVIfiber were the first internet provider in the state of Mississippi to receive federal grant funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s ReConnect grant to install fiber optic broadband in rural, underserved areas. The $16 million ReConnect grant and the MS Electric Cooperative Broadband COVID-19 grant will total over $20 million. TVEPA’s fiber network buildout plans require a total investment of more than $60 million.

TVEPA is an electric cooperative that serves over 27,000 residential, commercial, and industrial customers in nine north Mississippi counties, including

As a not-for-profit distributor of electricity generated by the Tennessee Valley Authority, TVEPA serves its member-owners, not profits. For more information, visit www.tvepa.com.

Tallahatchie Valley Internet Services, with the trade name TVIfiber, has been formed to expand and improve access to high speed internet service in the TVEPA service area by offering fiber to the home at gigabit speeds.

Alcorn County, Coast Delta Electric, Dixie Cooperative, East Mississippi, Four County, Monroe County, Natchez Trace, Northcentral, North East Mississippi, Prentiss County, Tippah, Tishomingo County and Tombigbee electric power associations also received grant awards on Tuesday.