Commissioners Agree To Support Choptank’s Broadband Legislation

SNOW HILL – The Worcester County Commissioners agreed to express support for Choptank Electric Cooperative’s broadband initiative.

At the request of Worcester County Economic Development Director Kathryn Gordon, the commissioners last week agreed to write a letter in support of a bill proposed by the electric cooperative that would give it more regulatory flexibility.

“Choptank Electric Cooperative will be introducing a local bill, the Rural Broadband for the Eastern Shore Act of 2020, to the General Assembly in January that will allow their electric cooperative to become a member regulated cooperative that will eliminate duplicative regulation and cost and allow their members to control their use of assets and staff to deliver broadband efficiently to their homes,” Gordon said.

She told the commissioners the company had asked attendees of the most recent Maryland Association of Counties conference to submit letters in support of the bill. Gordon said that Choptank wanted to use the same delivery model it used to bring rural families electric in the 1930s to bring rural residents reliable internet service.

“Choptank Electric states 36% of Maryland residents lack internet service that meets Federal Communication Commission standards and most of those residents are in rural areas like the Eastern Shore,” Gordon wrote in a memo to the commissioners. “In 2019, the Maryland General Assembly authorized the use of existing electric service easements and right-of-way to deliver broadband fiber.”

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She said that in order to use its existing assets and staff, Choptank would be requesting member regulation through the Rural Broadband for the Eastern Shore Act of 2020.

The commissioners voted unanimously to write a letter in support of the bill.

About The Author: Charlene Sharpe

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Charlene Sharpe has been with The Dispatch since 2014. A graduate of Stephen Decatur High School and the University of Richmond, she spent seven years with the Delmarva Media Group before joining the team at The Dispatch.