ESPAÑOLA, N.M., February 28, 2022 – At its Friday, February 25, 2022, meeting the Jemez Mountains Electric Cooperative, Inc. (JMEC) board of trustees made the decision to explore providing high-speed internet services.
“High-speed internet is vital to live and work in today’s world,” said Dennis Trujillo, president of JMEC’s board of trustees. “The Española area ranks third to last in the U.S. among communities of its size for internet speeds. For-profit internet providers have had more than 20 years to bring high-speed internet to our community yet the situation in our service area is inadequate and unacceptable.”
Work would begin with both a survey among JMEC members to determine their interest in and need for high-speed internet and a feasibility study to determine what the parameters would be of this possible new business function for JMEC.
JMEC would work with Kit Carson Electric Cooperative Inc., which has provided high-speed internet services for about 10 years. A pilot project in the Española area could serve as a demonstration as to the project’s potential for success.
“Federal and state grants are available now for high-speed internet services,” said Elias Coriz, chair of the JMEC broadband committee. “These kinds of subsidies provide a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for JMEC to assist with this vital function for its members.”
Michael Hastings, JMEC’s CEO and general manager, said that if carried out JMEC’s high-speed internet program would be operated as a separate business, a division of the cooperative. The two business units – electric service and internet service – are prevented by New Mexico law and regulations from subsidizing one or the other. He added that improving the JMEC electric infrastructure remains the cooperative’s highest priority.
“There are a number of off-ramps along the way for JMEC to exit this service line if it does not develop as it should,” said Hastings. “The internet business is not new to me. I have done this before at another cooperative that I managed for 11 years. JMEC has the same potential.”