Cleveland Utilities Continues with Broadband Study
Over the past year, Cleveland Utilities (CU) has continued evaluating the feasibility of directly providing broadband high-speed internet and telephone services to customers within its electric service territory as allowed by Tennessee state law. CU staff has been working with a consultant to develop a business plan model, and the utility is ready to move to the next phase of the study. An overview of the study process and preliminary figures were presented to the Utility Board at their monthly meeting. As part of the study, CU recently launched a survey to gauge local interest and needs within the community. The results were favorable and have indicated there is a desire for CU to provide such services.
The next step in the assessment is to submit the business plan to the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) and the Tennessee Comptroller for review and analysis. Resolutions authorizing the filing of the plan to both agencies was approved by the Board of Public Utilities of Cleveland, TN, on Thursday, February 24. The review period is 30-60 days for TVA and 60-90 days for the Tennessee Comptroller. If both TVA and the Tennessee Comptroller deem CU’s plan to be feasible, the next step would consist of holding a public hearing. The plan would then be presented to the CU Board of Directors for consideration. If approved, the final request would then be presented to the City Council for their consideration of authorization to proceed.
There is still work to be done in the feasibility study, and approval of these resolutions allows CU to continue with the next steps in the process of studying the viability of providing broadband and telephone services. It is not a final decision and does not grant authorization for CU to enter the broadband and telephone business.
CU previously conducted four broadband studies prior to this one, spanning from 2001 to 2016. All of these prior studies were determined not ideal financially for CU to offer such services at that time. President/CEO Tim Henderson said, “I am excited to continue the process of evaluating CU providing internet and phone services as part of our portfolio and the long-term benefit this could bring to both our customers and CU. We believe there are many advantages to having a municipal broadband system offering in communities, and if Cleveland Utilities becomes a provider, our goal will be to ensure we provide the absolute best options for our valued customers. Our team and the Board are looking forward to evaluating all the feedback to determine if CU can appropriately proceed with these service offerings. We recognize technology continues to evolve and is ever changing. It is paramount our utility is a part these changes.”