Barnesville was the place where President Franklin Delano Roosevelt came to flip the switch to electrify rural Georgia using Lamar EMC’s fledgling infrastructure of poles and wires in 1938. Now, over 80 years later, Southern Rivers Energy, the former EMC, is at the forefront of bring high speed broadband access to rural Lamar County where it is sorely needed.Southern Rivers Energy announced a formal partnership with Conexon, a full-service broadband consulting firm, that will provide high-speed internet to every SRE member across its nine-county service territory.The announcement was made alongside Central Georgia EMC at the State Capitol Feb. 8. Both electric membership cooperatives (EMCs) will partner with Conexon to design and build a fiber network that will strategically serve two purposes: provide smart-grid capabilities to improve electric service and reliability, and provide fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) high-speed internet to every EMC member through Conexon’s newly formed internet service provider, Connect. This partnership allows SRE to build a future-proof electric network that will help their communities thrive for decades to come, while indirectly filling the need of providing fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) for SRE members. ’The majority of the areas we serve have no access to quality, reliable internet service. That changes today,” says Michael McMillan, the cooperative’s CEO. ‘We know a fiber infrastructure is a significant investment, but we also know our communities are worth that investment’”in the infrastructure and resources necessary to encourage growth. Electric cooperatives brought rural areas electricity in the 1930s and early ‘˜40s when no other company would. The current internet crisis is the 21st century version of that.’The cooperative, headquartered in Barnesville, serves more than 20,000 billed accounts in parts of nine counties, including Bibb, Coweta, Crawford, Lamar, Monroe, Meriwether, Spalding, Pike and Upson countiesThe project will provide new broadband service to more than 15,000 unserved locations where, currently, there are no options for connectivity. Southern Rivers Energy will invest approximately $53 million to construct more than 2100 miles of fiber that will strengthen their electric grid and improve reliability. Conexon will invest a total of $6.5 million in electronics to provide broadband service to all of SRE’s members.SRE will own the fiber and lease excess capacity to Conexon which has agreed to serve every SRE member with fiber-to-the-home internet speeds up to 1 gigabit per second. The internet service will be powered by EMC fiber, but Conexon Connect will provide the retail service to homes and businesses, managing account set-up, customer service, and billing.’We are confident that we found the best partner in Conexon and the best business model that will allow us to continue focusing on our core mission of providing reliable, affordable electric service while Conexon uses its expertise to provide quality high-speed internet to all of our members at a cost they can afford,’ said McMillan. Details are still being finalized, including a construction timeline but coordination and planning for the network is already underway. Visit southernriversenergy.com or follow them on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram for the latest broadband news.About ConexonConexon works with Rural Electric Cooperatives to bring fiber to the home in rural communities. The company is composed of professionals who have worked in electric cooperatives and the telecommunications industry, and offer decades of individual experience in business planning, building networks, marketing and selling telecommunications. Conexon offers its electric cooperative clients end-to-end broadband deployment and operations support, from a project’s conception all the way through to its long-term sustainability. It works with clients to analyze economic feasibility, secure financing, design the network, manage construction, provide operational support, optimize business performance and determine optimal partnerships. To date, Conexon has assisted nearly 200 electric cooperatives, nearly 50 of which are deploying fiber networks, with more than 150,000 connected fiber-to-the-home subscribers across the U.S. The company has secured over $1.3 billion in federal and state funding for its clients.About ConnectConnect is the newly formed internet services provider (ISP) arm of rural fiber broadband design and construction management leader Conexon. The subsidiary was formed to operate and manage cooperative and investor-owned fiber-to-the-home networks. Connect leverages Conexon’s decades of co-op operations, fiber-optic design and construction, telecommunications, federal and state lobbying and customer experience management expertise to successfully launch and operate projects. The Connect approach is to work exclusively with electric cooperatives to launch and deploy high-speed fiber-optic networks ‘“ the gold standard of communications transmission ‘“ enabling them to offer world-class fiber broadband to 100% of their members.