Jefferson County PUD seeks to expand internet

Agency pursuing $12.4M in funds

PORT TOWNSEND — The Jefferson County Public Utility District is pursuing a $12.4 million grant that would fund installation of fiber optic internet in Quilcene to Discovery Bay and surrounding areas.

As part of the grant application, the Public Utility District (PUD) is asking residents within the project area to fill out an survey. It is online at www.jeffpud.org/broadband-phase-1 and is being mailed out as a paper survey to customers with prepaid return postage.

The survey is due Aug. 13, the PUD said in a press release.

The total project would build more than 160 miles of optical fiber to connect more than 1,600 homes and businesses in Quilcene, Discovery Bay, Gardiner and part of Chimacum, the PUD said.

The project was submitted to the state Broadband Office requesting partnership and matching funds, and, if accepted, it will be bundled within a statewide application to the National Telecommunications and Information Administration Broadband Infrastructure Funding Program, the PUD said.

The project builds off the PUD’s recent lease of optical fiber owned by the Bonneville Power Administration, which runs fiber from Olympia to Port Angeles, the PUD said.

The BPA fiber boosts the PUD’s network capacity and provides it with a secure second pathway off the North Olympic Peninsula, as currently the only fiber pathways into and out of East Jefferson County run across the Hood Canal Bridge, PUD General Manager Kevin Streett said in the release.

The PUD plans to be the retail service provider for internet in the project area.

Until recently, the PUD legally could only provide wholesale internet service to private companies, which would oversee and provide customer connections and manage their billing and support, Streett said.

Due to the passage of House Bill 1336 and Senate Bill 5383 in the state Legislature, as of July 25, the PUD can provide internet service along with any fiber installations, Streett said.

While the PUD is planning to be an internet service provider for connections built in grant project area, all PUD fiber is “open access,” Streett said.

“That means that any eligible service provider can use PUD fiber to connect to a customer,” he said. “You don’t have to just use the PUD if other options are available.”

The PUD is advertising that fiber in the project area will offer minimum upload and download speeds of 100 megabytes per second, with gigabyte per second or higher speeds also available.

Currently, Streett estimates the cost of residential service is likely to begin at $65 per month before taxes. Low-income rates will be available, as will Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) phone service.

In a 2019 survey, about 70 percent of residents reported they did not have broadband service. High-speed internet is defined as speeds higher than 25 megabytes per second, said Will O’Donnell, PUD communications director, in a phone interview Tuesday.

In a presentation to the PUD’s Board of Commissioners, Streett identified the $12.6 million project as the first of multiple projects to expand access to broadband in the county.

Although Streett said the PUD’s goal is to ensure everyone in Jefferson County has affordable, reliable access to broadband, he explained that federal and state grant funding opportunities will dictate which project areas the PUD focuses on first.

“Right now, all of the grants are for under(served) and unserved rural areas,” Streett said.

The PUD is working to connect businesses to fiber for which the PUD has already strung or installed conduit, Streett said.

The PUD currently owns a 50-mile fiber network that extends around Port Townsend and Port Hadlock and ends at the Port Ludlow substation on Oak Bay Road.

________

Jefferson County reporter Zach Jablonski can be reached at 360-385-2335, ext. 5, or at [email protected]

More in News

Seattle hospital to refuse some patients due to capacity

Harborview Medical Center in Seattle will temporarily… Continue reading

PHOTO BY: Susan Doupé
CAPTION: Priya Jayadev is the new executive director for Volunteer Hospice of Clallam County.
New executive director for Volunteer Hospice of Clallam County

Volunteer Hospice of Clallam County has hired Supriya “Priya” Jayadev as its… Continue reading

Steve Mullensky/for Peninsula Daily News
The Port Townsend City Council seeks to sell the Cherry Street property that had been barged over from Canada  five years ago to become affordable housing.
Port Townsend aims to sell Cherry Street housing project

Stalled for years, affordable housing project all but adandoned

Layla Franson, 15, and Jackson, her 10-year-old Quarter Horse, are competing in 4H at the Jefferson County Fair this weekend. Like many counties across the state, Jefferson County has seen a decline in the numbers of youths enrolled in 4H after the COVID lockdown and is actively seeking to reboot its program. (Paula Hunt/Peninsula Daily News)
Jefferson County Fair back after two-year hiatus

4H looks for bounceback after restrictions eased

Housing, opioids topics at county meetings

Meetings across Clallam, Jeffersom counties

Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News
Fair Queen Allison Pettit, front, and Queen's Court Sophia Lawson, shown on Aug. 6 on their parade float in the Joyce Daze Wild Blackberry Festival, will preside over the Clallam County Fair starting on Thursday in Port Angeles.
Clallam County Fair back in 2022

Four days of grandstand events, music, food and fun start Thursday

Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News
Scaffolding covers a section of the sidewalk in the 100 block of West First Street to support workers as they upgrade the the facade on Lee Plaza.
Affordable housing units get upgrades

Scaffolding in downtown Port Angeles evidence of one of several PHA projects

Lower Dungeness: Towne Road and Levee Trail closed

Towne Road and the adjacent Dungeness Levee Trail are currently… Continue reading

Most Read