Commission meeting recap: Microsoft announces $200,000 contribution for fiber buildout to George

Microsoft officials announced during the commission meeting in Beverly on March 27 that the company is making a $200,000 contribution toward building out wholesale fiber optic service to residents in the City of George.

Paul Englis, of Microsoft, told the commissioners that his company as an organization has a desire to give back to the community, pointing out that last year the company's philanthropies donated approximately $1.7 billion in money and goods globally. The George project was selected after months of discussion with Grant PUD staff, including now senior wholesale fiber business managers Thomas Stredwick and Russ Brethower, because it was seen as a location that can help Microsoft bridge the gap for folks who don't have broadband access in their community.

"We want to help close that gap," Englis said. "This project in George is one of the ways we can help with that. And aligning with local partners, such as Grant PUD, is how we want to go about it. We see ourselves as being a catalyst to help you be even more successful in what you are already doing."

He added that George was selected because it was identified as the last incorporated community in Grant County that does not have fiber service. The need is great to help provide for community development and better educational opportunities for those living in the city of 500 people.

"You hear heartbreaking stories of mothers who, at night, load up their children in the family car so they can do their homework by using the free wifi in the library parking lot," Englis said. "We want to help provide better opportunities for those families so they can improve their lives."

He added that Microsoft is also looking to address issues in the county where families do have the opportunity to access broadband service but they do not have the resources to make connections to the service.

Commission president Terry Brewer said he and the board are grateful for Microsoft's contribution to the fiber network buildout.

"We are really appreciative of your offer and we look forward to working with you to make bringing fiber to George a reality."

Last fall, the commissioners approved $7 million toward fiber buildout in the county. Grant PUD's wholesale fiber optic managers and staff have been working on a plan for building out fiber not only to George, but also to other areas of the county and are expected to announce those plans in the next few weeks.

In other business:

  • Commissioners approved a $1.356 million contract with Aronson Security Group for the supply, installation and commissioning of a Genetec electronic access control and video management system. The new system will help improve security at Grant PUD facilities.
  • Commissioners heard a request from Warren Morgan, of Double Diamond Fruit Co. in Quincy, to change policy so his new apple-packing facility will have power before apple harvest begins this fall. Morgan said that he had expanded his business and planned for power service to be ready for him this year and was told that his project would be delayed while the utility completes its infrastructure study related to large load requests. Commissioners Flint and Brewer said they would work with Grant PUD staff to make sure that Morgan's requests and others from growers are addressed quickly and will not be significantly delayed.
  • Approved paying a claim totaling $6,890.76 to Harry Anderson for damage to his sewer line, which was caused by a fiber-installation contractor in 2006. The damage was not detected until Jan. 26, 2018.
  • Heard a presentation from Richard Flanigan, Senior Manager of Wholesale Marketing Supply, and Paul Dietz, Senior Quantitative Analyst, regarding a proposed 10 percent slice sale of Priest Rapids Project Output for six months to Avangrid (formerly Iberdrola). The slice sale is projected to net Grant PUD about $1.5 million over the six-month period, Flanigan stated.
  • Other reports to the commission included a report from the CIT3 Team, Security Report, Safety and Health Improvement Report and Public Power/Industry Outreach Activity Report. All reports materials be found here: https://grantpud.org/component/edocman/3075-presentation-materials.

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