News Updates for HomeWorks Connect

News Updates for HomeWorks Connect

HomeWorks Connect Makes Progress
April, 2018

HomeWorks Connect, our fiber-to-the-home high-speed internet business, is moving along in Phase 1.

We expect to build service to our first retail customers in September; meanwhile, we’ve had crews out engineering and inspecting our power lines to make sure they’re ready for the addition of fiber optic cable when construction starts in May.

Phase 1 includes building along the PT2, PT3, PT4, GE2, GE3, and GE4, OD1, and OD3 circuits (see map), in these townships: Woodland (Barry County); Eagle and Westphalia (Clinton County); Benton, Oneida, and Roxand (Eaton County); and Berlin, Danby, Ionia, Lyons, Odessa, Orange, Portland, Sebewa, and Sunfield (Ionia County).

Small preliminary map of HomeWorks Connect Phase 1 circuits
The dark green line is the proposed “backbone” linking the Portland, Grand Ledge and Odessa substations.  The colored lines, radiating outward from those substations, are feeders that will reach some or all of our electric customers in Barry, Clinton, Eaton, and Ionia counties.

Over the next several months, we’ll post updates here in Michigan Country Lines, as well as on our Facebook page and homeworks.org. Whether you’re in the Phase 1 area or not, you can join our waiting list at HomeWorksConnect.org – the information will help us determine where to go for Phase 2 and beyond.

Fiber Readiness Tip #1:  Make sure you have a portable email address. If your email goes through your current ISP, i.e., sbcglobal.net or similar, set up a new account with Google, Hotmail, or another no-cost service. Start moving your subscriptions and contact list over now to avoid a last-minute rush.

Fiber Readiness Tip #2:  Don’t sign any long-term agreements with your current carrier. Many services will try to lock you in with a slight discount, keeping you from taking advantage of fiber as soon as it’s available to you.

Fiber Readiness Tip #3: Tell your neighbors! Direct them to HomeWorksConnect.org to join our waiting list - no matter where you live, we'll be using member interest to help us determine where the next phase or two will take us.

Board Approves First Phase of Fiber-to-the-Home (Nov-17)

Family members using electronic devices in living roomAs the first step in a very long process, your board of directors has approved moving forward with a fiber-to-the-home service that is intended to benefit all HomeWorks Tri-County Electric members.

HomeWorks plans to install fiber optic cable along our electric system. This high-speed data line would serve two purposes:

1) Creating a network of system data that will help our engineers, dispatchers, and line crews maintain and strengthen our system against animals, storms, and load growth, and

2) Providing our members in rural mid-Michigan with state-of-the-art high-speed internet service.

“Most of us don’t remember when co-ops were formed in the late 1930s. Farmers worked together because none of the big utilities would bring power lines to their homes and families,” says general manager Mark Kappler. “But our history is being repeated now with high-speed internet access.

“Just as electricity was essential to improving lives 80 years ago, high-speed internet is needed for education, economic development, and overall quality of life here.”

Kappler adds that overall success will be measured in three ways: a) every member will have access to affordable, reliable high-speed internet; b) a fiber network will not negatively affect electric reliability or service; and c) fiber-to-the-home as an internet service will break even financially.

There are currently 60 electric co-ops across the U.S. building fiber networks, and another 200 or so are looking into it as we have been doing. Our due diligence included two member surveys and two feasibility studies. We also made several visits to Midwest Energy & Communications in Cassopolis, who started their own fiber business four years ago and are now well over half-way to completing their build-out.

Because building a 3,300 mile network is a big job, even using our existing poles, this is being planned as a phased approach which will likely take six years before we’ve built out to every location. The board of directors will review member acceptance and other factors before deciding to move forward in each of the planned five phases.

Members can get involved in planning each phase through an innovative crowd-sourcing process. We will set up a special website where interested members can vote for their area to be built out next by signing up for the service, and encourage their neighbors to sign up as well. The more people who sign up in an area, the faster they’ll get service. Sign-ups will be available online or via phone to our customer service team.

These details, and more, will be determined over the next few months and details will be announced as they’re available in early 2018.

(published in November-December 2017 issue of Michigan Country Lines)

This service is not regulated by the Michigan Public Service Commission.

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