Yampa Valley Electric Association launches Luminate Broadband | CraigDailyPress.com

Yampa Valley Electric Association launches Luminate Broadband

Moffat County Broadband Initiative and Colorado Department of Local Affairs (DOLA) officials pose for a photo following a grant presentation to the State Advisory Committee on Nov. 7 in Burlington. Pictured, from left, are Craig City Manager Peter Brixius, DOLA Regional Manager Kimberly Bullen, Craig/Moffat Economic Development Partnership Executive Director Michelle Perry, DOLA Executive Director Irv Halter, Craig City Councilman Derek Duran, Yampa Valley Electric Association CEO Steve Johnson, Mammoth Networks Vice President of Colorado Operations Evan Biagi, DOLA Regional Manager Greg Winkler and Craig Mayor John Ponikvar.
Craig Moffat Economic Development Partnership/courtesy

“High-speed broadband is on the way!” announced Yampa Valley Electric Association in recent social media posts and on the electrical coop’s new websites.

Luminate Broadband, a newly formed, stand-alone subsidiary of the cooperative utility, is in the process of building its fiber-optic broadband network, which, according to marketing materials, “will deliver high-speed internet to improve the quality of your life.”

The high-speed fiber broadband internet service will offer data speeds of up to 1 gigabyte (1,000 megabytes) per second.

“I’m extremely excited that things are coming together very well for us,” said YVEA CEO Steve Johnson. “I knew the need was there but didn’t understand that it was as great as it is, and I’m excited to provide this opportunity for our communities.”

News of YVEA’s entry into the broadband market was made public in fall 2018. Before that, the Moffat County Broadband Initiative was leading an effort to improve connectivity in Craig and Moffat County.

MCBI is a joint effort involving several local community anchor institutions, led by the city of Craig, Moffat County, and the now dissolved Craig Moffat Economic Development Partnership. In addition to those three entities, Memorial Regional Health, Colorado Northwestern Community College, Moffat County School District, and Moffat County Local Marketing District were also part of the effort.

The MCBI plan called for 14.7 miles of middle-mile fiber infrastructure serving 38 community anchor institutions in Craig and the buildout of a Meet Me Center.

Johnson explained in November that the cooperative intends to offer the same open-access network MCBI had planned, while including similar middle-mile infrastructure and fiber extending to those entities and residences that sign up for service.

“We’ve made network design changes to provide access to everyone inside Craig and a good chunk of Moffat County,” Johnson said Thursday, March 28. “The open access is in relation to the middle mile and project Thor; we are still committed and working through those partnerships.”

YVEA decided to create its own network even as partners of the Moffat County Broadband Initiative were asking the Department of Local Affairs for funding. With YVEA committing to the project, the DOLA grant application was withdrawn, and MCBI stepped back to support YVEA’sefforts.

“We have similar interests to the city of Craig — to serve our member organizations, businesses, and residents. This project falls in line with our mission of providing critical infrastructure to our members,” Johnson said in November. “The work done through the Moffat County Broadband Initiative — with the city of Craig, Moffat County, and CMEDP at the helm — acted as a catalyst for us to enter the broadband space, as many electric cooperatives across the country are doing. The collaboration within the community is making this buildout possible.”

At the time, Craig Mayor John Ponikvar said the collaborative effort with YVEA is the “best possible outcome” the city and the MCBI committee could have envisioned.

Contact Sasha Nelson at 970-875-1794 or snelson@CraigDailyPress.com.