Ensuring home broadband internet access—particularly in rural areas—has long been a national priority, but efforts to bridge the digital divide gained increased urgency in the face of safety measures taken to combat the pandemic.  As the federal government amplifies its longstanding strategy of providing funding to entice commercial deployment of broadband service in otherwise uneconomical rural areas, electric utilities, too, have been taking steps to bring essential broadband internet access to their underserved communities.  This panel will explore how elements of utilities’ private grid management communications networks can help make third-party provision of broadband internet service economically attractive.

Panelists: Commissioner Chris Nelson (South Dakota PUC),  Joe Millard (Ameren), Ron Griffith (Xcel Energy), and Griselda Aldrete (Alliant Energy).

Substitute Moderator: Bobbi Harris (UBBA)