Public Service Commissioner Brandon Presley is asking the Monroe County Electric Power Association members to push their board of directors to move forward on providing broadband internet after a Tuesday meeting ended with no agreement from either side.
The Aug. 20 meeting took place at the Becker Community Center after being organized by the Monroe County Citizens for Broadband. The Monroe Journal reported that Gerald Weathers, the owner of a Facebook group of the same name and organizer of the meeting, invited both Presley and representatives from the Monroe County Electric Power Association to discuss the possibility of getting broadband internet.
In a Facebook post made Tuesday, Presley said that at the meeting, the Monroe County EPA board of directors denied a request to hold a vote Saturday. The Monroe County EPA board denied this due to a request from Presley and members for the creation of an 11-member advisory board of cooperative members. According to Presley’s post, the committee would serve for free and while they would make recommendations, they would not be binding.
The Monroe Journal reported that during an Aug. 6 annual meeting, board attorney Scott Hendrix said that though the company has done one study, it may take up to eight years for the cooperative to generate positive cash flow. At the Tuesday meeting, Monroe EPA general manager Barry Rowland shared that their February feasibility study was what made them hesitant to provide broadband service currently, and the board did not want an advisory committee to make decisions on broadband.
In multiple Facebook posts, Presley mentioned the Monroe County Board of Directors were building a million-dollar building on 64 acres of land, but urged members to not “lose sight of the goal or be distracted.”
“I know everyone wants immediate action and the fact is that we can get this done, but we have to stay completely focused on the quickest, easiest and most affordable route and that is and always will be MCEPA. No other entity will fix this problem for everyone at an affordable rate that meets the needs or today and tomorrow. Don’t let one meeting cause you to lose hope,” Presley said in the post.