Northern Neck Electric Cooperative is proud to announce the completion of its role in the fiber build-out for the Northern Neck regional broadband project. The co-op’s role of make-ready construction, or the process of preparing utility poles for a new fiber attachment to
the pole, occurred over the last two years.
When the project first began, it was estimated that 11,000 NNEC poles would need to be checked and designed by engineers and 1,100 poles may need to be switched out by a line crew. To date, more than a dozen contract engineers have inspected and designed more than 10,000 poles, and contract line crews for NNEC have replaced or worked on over 900 poles.
Utility make-ready can range from relatively minor work like adjusting existing attachments to more advanced jobs, such as placing a new pole to accommodate All Points Broadband’s forthcoming fiber attachment.
“The goal for construction was to be complete by the end of 2023, and we met that goal,” says Steve Minor, vice president of engineering, and NNEC’s lead on its contribution to the broadband project. “When the project started, we had four engineers on staff here to manage it. We now have more than 35 staff, contractors and consultants working as hard as possible to help make broadband a reality for our members. This is a massive project, and we are proud that we have completed our support of the project.”
Numerous members of the NNEC team provided significant amounts of time to the project in addition to their regular duties. Prior to the arrival of contract crews, lineworkers helped prepare certain projects. Warehouse staff retrofitted the former linework warehouse and yard to support all of the materials needed for the massive project. Member service representatives directed calls and inquiries to All Points Broadband. The engineering department played a significant role in being both the quarterback of the project as well as the coach and special teams.
“My team stepped up huge to make this project possible. Cory Ladner is an unsung hero of this project,” says Minor. “He handles all of the design questions for the contractors, all of the route reviews, addresses member concerns about the make-ready construction, has done numerous site visits, reviews all designs and attachment applications, and more. He did all this while still supporting our net metering connections, monthly substation inspections, and other routine engineering functions.”
Over the last 24 months, thousands of hours have been spent supporting the project by NNEC and its contractors.
“It was a lot of work, but it was worth it,” says Minor. “Families and businesses throughout the region will now have the opportunity to be connected to the internet for the first time, and it will be transformational for them and for future generations. We were proud to do this. It will improve the quality of life in our communities, and that’s what we do.”