Dairyland Power: Awarded $14.89 million NTIA grant to support broadband deployment in rural communities

LA CROSSE, WI— The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) has awarded a $14.89 million Middle Mile Broadband Infrastructure Grant to Dairyland Power Cooperative to expand internet access in underserved rural communities.

Dairyland applied for the grant in 2022 to support the communities served by its member cooperatives in rural Wisconsin, Minnesota and Iowa. Through this grant, 240 miles of Dairyland’s transmission network will be retrofitted with optical ground wire (OPGW) during its Tri-State Fiber Deployment Project. The majority of the fiber optic installation is expected to be completed within two years.

Internet access is an equity issue, detrimental to population health, safety, education, economic growth and social ties in communities with insufficient infrastructure.

“Electricity and high-speed internet power every aspect of our daily lives,” said Dairyland President & CEO Brent Ridge. “It is unacceptable that rural populations are disadvantaged by limited access to infrastructure supporting essential services. On behalf of our members, we are thrilled to have received funding to improve quality of life in the communities we serve.”

The growing and critical need for reliable and affordable high-speed broadband internet service led to the development of Dairyland’s Tri-State Fiber Deployment project plan. According to USDA population standards, all counties within the project’s service area are rural and have median household incomes that are less than the national average of $64,994.

About the grant: The NTIA’s Middle Mile Broadband Infrastructure Grant Program is a $1 billion program that provides funding for the construction, improvement or acquisition of middle mile infrastructure. “Middle mile” refers to the mid-section of internet infrastructure that carries large amounts of data at high speeds over long distances.

About Dairyland Power Cooperative: Headquartered in La Crosse, Wis., Dairyland provides the wholesale electrical requirements for 24 distribution cooperatives and 27 municipal utilities. These cooperatives and municipals, in turn, supply the energy needs of approximately 700,000 people in the four-state service area. Dairyland delivers electricity via 3,300 miles of transmission lines and 232 substations located throughout the system’s 44,500 square mile service area. Visit www.DairylandPower.com.