Dominion Energy to Help Provide Broadband Access to Virginians
July 2021
In today’s digitally connected world, having access to affordable and reliable internet is a necessity, not a luxury. EEI’s member companies are working to solve broadband inequity issues and help provide high-speed internet access to customers in unserved and underserved communities. 

Dominion Energy Virginia is partnering with Firefly Fiber Broadband (a wholly owned subsidiary of Central Virginia Electric Cooperative), Rappahannock Electric Cooperative, and the counties of Albemarle, Appomattox, Buckingham, Cumberland, Fluvanna, Goochland, Greene, Louisa, and Powhatan to extend broadband access to more than 25,000 Virginians. 

These entities recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding to advance a regional broadband partnership that aims to deliver fiber-optic broadband service to unserved and underserved households and businesses in areas of Central Virginia, subject to regulatory approval. This partnership was enabled by bipartisan legislation adopted during the 2021 General Assembly Session. 

This partnership also will help Virginia meet its goal to achieve universal broadband connectivity by no later than 2028. 

Dominion Energy already is installing fiber in rural areas as it moves forward with efforts to enhance Virginia's energy grid. This fiber capacity can be used for operational needs as well as broadband access, reducing broadband deployment costs for internet service providers. Under the agreement, Firefly will lease the "middle-mile" fiber installed by Dominion Energy in the company's electric service area in these nine counties. 

"This partnership marks a major step forward in ensuring that the communities we serve have access to quality, high-speed internet that is critical to allowing homes, businesses and educational institutions to function in today's digital world," said Ed Baine, president of Dominion Energy Virginia. "We are excited to work with Firefly Fiber Broadband, Rappahannock Electric Cooperative, and each participating county to help support the expansion of this critical service."

"The County Administrators and Board of Supervisors should be applauded for their efforts to secure reliable, high-speed internet to their entire counties. Firefly is eager to spread its wings and light up households and businesses with reliable and affordable fiber broadband through the Regional Internet Service Expansion (RISE) project,” said Gary Wood, president and CEO of Firefly. 

Dominion Energy, Firefly Fiber Broadband, Rappahannock Electric Cooperative, and each participating county will work toward a phased approach; for Dominion Energy Virginia that will include an application to the State Corporation Commission to seek regulatory approval in early 2022. The first phase will include engineering studies, which will determine the most efficient deployment plan and funding requirements. 

"At Rappahannock Electric Cooperative, our goal is to be part of the solution to facilitate broadband to the households and businesses we serve," said John Hewa, president and CEO of Rappahannock Electric Cooperative. "Being able to partner on this endeavor with several counties where we serve electric members—along with Firefly Broadband and Dominion Energy Virginia—is a major advancement, allowing each of us to seek to further the Commonwealth's goals of making broadband access available to everyone." 

Rappahannock Electric Cooperative will own a fiber network where it delivers electricity in the counties of Louisa, Albemarle, Goochland, and Greene Counties. Firefly will serve as the internet service provider. Dominion Energy also is partnering with Prince George Electric Cooperative and Northern Neck Electric Cooperative in separate projects to expand broadband access to thousands of Virginians. 

Visit Dominion Energy’s Rural Broadband Program webpage to learn how the electric company is providing middle-mile fiber optic cables to help increase broadband access to underserved communities. 

To learn more about how electric companies are powering broadband equity, read the May/June issue of Electric Perspectives.