Pennyrile Electric receives nearly $14 million for internet service expansion

More than 5,500 homes and businesses could receive high-speed internet in Christian, Caldwell, Lyon, Todd and Trigg counties.

Pennyrile Rural Electric will receive seven state grants that total approximately $13.83 million to expand high-speed internet to 5,598 unserved homes and businesses in Caldwell, Christian, Lyon, Todd and Trigg counties. Along with local matching funds, the regional project is valued at approximately $27.9 million, Gov. Andy Beshear’s office announced Monday. 

The funding is part of the Better Kentucky Plan that provides $89 million to 12 internet service providers and local governments in 35 counties. Along with matching funds pledged by the grant recipients, the total value of the broadband expansion will be $203 million, according to a press release. 

Pennyrile Electric has an online map where residents can check to see if they live in an area where internet expansion is planned. 

The grants will lower the cost of providing high-speed internet to the state’s most rural areas, said Kentucky Budget Director John Hicks. 

The funding was awarded through a competitive process managed by the Finance and Administration Cabinet. Six state employees evaluated nearly 100 proposals over a six-month period. 

“I am incredibly pleased to announce what I believe is the single largest provision of funding for high-speed internet in our commonwealth’s history,” Beshear said in the release. “High-speed, reliable internet service is not just the infrastructure of the future, it is the infrastructure of the present. It is just as important right now as roads and bridges. And today is a key part of our plan to build a better Kentucky, as high-speed internet will be critical to the success of our state’s economy and to future job creation.”

Alan Gates, president and CEO of Pennyrile Rural Electric said, “We are immensely grateful for KIA’s support. We have provided electricity to local residents and businesses since 1937, and we are excited to deliver yet another critical utility that will further empower our members and communities and enhance their quality of life.”

Pennyrile Electric offers internet service through its energynet partnership with Hopkinsville Electric System. 

“The investment required to bring fast, reliable internet service to the Hopkinsville Electric and Pennyrile Electric service area is significant. We appreciate the state recognizes how important this investment in digital infrastructure is. We look forward to serving even more residents withvour energynet fiber-optic broadband network,” said Jeff Hurd, general manager of HES.

Pennyrile Electric receives nearly $14 million for internet service expansion

Jennifer P. Brown | Hoptown Chronicle

Jennifer P. Brown is co-founder, publisher and editor of Hoptown Chronicle. You can reach her at editor@hoptownchronicle.org. She spent 30 years as a reporter and editor at the Kentucky New Era. She is a co-chair of the national advisory board to the Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues, governing board president for the Kentucky Historical Society, and co-founder of the Kentucky Open Government Coalition.