Loan from Jefferson PUD OK to upgrade internet

PORT TOWNSEND — Jefferson County Utility District Commissioners voted 2-0 to accept a $1.8 million state Board of Public Works broadband loan granted in late July.

“I’m uncomfortable that we don’t have enough action to see if we can repay this,” said PUD commissioner Dan Toepper, who voted to abstain on the issue at the special meeting. of Friday morning.

PUD Commission Chairman Kenneth Collins said: “One of the reasons I’m 90% comfortable is because we’re giving internet access to places that don’t have it. .

Will O’Donnell, communications director for Jefferson County PUD, said the approval allows PUD to proceed with the Port Townsend Commercial Fiber Project.

“We hope to start construction after the first of the year, with initial connections in the spring,” he said.

The project is expected to be completed by the end of 2024.

“That’s when we hope to have 225 connections. That’s our goal,” O’Donnell said.

The special meeting was called to allow PUD to move forward with the loan as soon as possible, O’Donnell said.

The Business Fiber project is expected to connect up to 225 of the 375 businesses to high-speed Internet service with download and upload speeds of 10 gigabytes.

The state loan of $1.8 million over 15 years requires a counterpart of $204,000.

O’Donnell said when the loan was granted in July that the download and upload speeds were “amazing” and the loan was “intriguing” because no ISP in the county could provide those speeds.

PUD plans to cover the $135,000 annual cost of the loan by getting at least 106 subscribers. Once the project has started, people can start booking services through the PUD website at jeffpud.org/. The connection fee will be $1,200. Monthly rates have not yet been set.

O’Donnell said the loan will cover construction and the connection fee will cover the loan. Ongoing costs will be covered by the monthly charges for the planned 106 connections.

“Our goal is for all of fiber construction to have loans to cover construction and then enough customers for maintenance and operations and any future capital construction. If we are successful, we will have enough money for future capital projects,” O’Donnell said.

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Journalist Brian Gawley can be reached at [email protected]



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