The Advocacy Excellence Award annually recognizes an EEI member company’s engagement and activism in public policy advocacy at federal, state and local levels.
Alabama Power won the 2020 award for its coordinated efforts across the company to develop public-private partnerships and to educate customers and public officials on the need for more resources and entities to invest in and build broadband infrastructure.
“We are honored EEI has recognized our collaborative effort to help bridge the digital divide in Alabama.” said Alabama Power CEO Mark Crosswhite. “Our customers are at the center of all we do, and we are constantly looking for innovative ways to enhance their experience while elevating our state.”
The submission detailed the company’s use of available fiber capacity, an electric grid infrastructure solution that can serve as the backbone for telecommunications companies and other broadband providers in delivering high-speed internet. Alabama Power’s strategic fiber deployment – a preplanned project to create a smarter, more reliable and resilient grid – can help broadband providers reach and connect to more customers.
To help support this work, the company partnered with business and community organizations to create the Alabama Rural Broadband Coalition (ARBC) in 2018 with a common goal: to connect Alabamians to each other and the world.
The ARBC is a member-led organization representing more than 50 entities including health care, education, agriculture and economic development groups. ARBC was instrumental in the passage of transformational laws during the Alabama legislative session in 2019.
House Bill 400 (Broadband Using Electric Easement Accessibility Act) paved the way to allow electric providers the ability to use their existing infrastructure and easements to support high-speed internet, while updates to Senate Bill 90 (Alabama Broadband Accessibility Fund) expanded access to funding for those seeking to offer broadband solutions to unserved and underserved rural areas.
Since Gov. Kay Ivey signed these acts into law in May 2019, Alabama Power has continued forging partnerships with C Spire and, in recent months, Point Broadband, to support broadband offerings throughout the state. Electric cooperatives also have used the legislation to provide broadband in 26 Alabama counties.
EEI applauded Alabama Power’s successful campaign to expand broadband in Alabama, saying it was a huge win for Alabamians and the electric-utility industry.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the digital divide that still exists in many communities across the country,” said EEI President Tom Kuhn. “EEI commends Alabama Power for working successfully with policymakers and other key stakeholders to identify new ways to fund and build the broadband infrastructure needed to reach underserved and unserved communities within its service territory. Allowing electric companies to provide middle-mile broadband infrastructure, in partnership with telecommunications companies and last-mile internet providers, is a win for customers and communities. We applaud Alabama Power for its leadership.”
(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)