Louisa County considers tax abatement for electric cooperative in return for high-speed internet

Gary Wood, Central Virginia Electric Cooperative president, speaks with residents about high-speed internet service during the Green Springs comprehensive plan meeting in August.

Gary Wood, Central Virginia Electric Cooperative president, speaks with residents about high-speed internet service during the Green Springs comprehensive plan meeting in August.

County officials agreed on Sept. 17 to consider a $550,000 tax abatement to Central Virginia Electric Cooperative to bring high-speed internet to the Green Springs and Ferncliff areas.

Members of the Louisa County Board of Supervisors encouraged the company to offer internet service to all county residents if the cooperative can make a deal with the other two electric providers that serve the area.

The $550,000 is far less than the $2 million CVEC initially asked the supervisors to contribute last winter. Gary Wood, the company’s president, said that’s because an impressive number of residents and businesses have already signed up as customers in Appomattox County with the cooperative’s internet subsidiary, Firefly Fiber Broadband.

The taxes would be abated over the course of several years, with increased revenue from the cooperative’s new fiber-optic lines expected to offset the expense.

In Louisa, CVEC will offer service first via the Zion substation on Diamond Road. The company previously inked a tax abatement deal with Fluvanna County, where most of the customers served from the substation are located. CVEC wants to secure financial aid from Louisa before it offers to connect residents on this side of the county line.

“I’d like to get an agreement in place so we can build out all of Zion while we’re there,” Wood said.

People in the Zion area will be able to buy service in 2019, while those with access to the Henson’s Store substation, on Poindexter Road east of Zion Crossroads, will be able to sign up in 2020. The Cash’s Corner substation, which serves areas closer to Gordonsville, could be connected by then, as well.

Wood said he has talked in recent months with Dominion Energy and Rappahannock Electric Cooperative (REC) about the potential to offer internet service in their territories, which include the rest of the county. Wood cautioned that those discussions are preliminary and the cooperative’s focus is on connecting its customers in western Louisa to the internet over the next 10 years.

CVEC is particularly interested in a portion of the Green Springs area served by Dominion, just north of Zion Crossroads.

“We’re looking for ways to serve people in that area and to work with Dominion’s system,” Wood said.

Read full story in The Central Virginian’s Sept. 20 issue

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