Arrowhead Electric gets green light on fiber optic funding

Arrowhead Electric Cooperative Inc. (AECI) General Manager Jeanne Muntean came under fire at the recent annual meeting and in letters to the editor for expending member dollars before the USDA Rural Utility Service (RUS) had given its stamp of approval on the Arrowhead Electric Cooperative Inc. fiber optic broadband project. Muntean assured concerned cooperative members that the delays in release of RUS Broadband Initiatives Program funds was due to the layers of bureaucracy the co-op had to muddle through. So, it was with the greatest pleasure that Muntean announced on June 22 that word had been received that Arrowhead had met all the conditions to begin receiving funding advancements.
Muntean said, “We’re very happy. It took a lot of work from all the Arrowhead employees to get this done. I’m very pleased,” she said.
Arrowhead expects its first reimbursement to be received within a week. The co-op will be receiving $11,296,239 in grant funding and $4,841,245as a loan.
Muntean said now that advancement of funds has been secured, “We’re ramping up.”
Arrowhead will get back to work with its construction contractor, Mastec, to build out the community fiber network as much as possible in 2012. The cooperative plans to have the entire fiber optic broadband network up and running countywide by the fourth quarter of 2013. “It’s a pretty aggressive schedule,” said Muntean. “But that’s our goal.”
Work is currently underway. Underground crews are pulling fiber into conduit that was installed in 2011 in the Lutsen area, on the Ski Hill Road and the golf course.  Overhead drop crews are working on the fiber line between the road and member’s homes along the Cramer Road in Schroeder.
However, Muntean cautions, there is still a lot of work to be done and each household may have several visits from the contractor before the project is completed.
Anyone with questions about the fiber optic broadband project is encouraged to call (218) 663-7239 or to visit www.aecimn.com.