GoSEMO Fiber’s Phase One construction build-out underway for member-owners
By Sean J. Vanslyke
Broadband/Fiber for southeast Missouri
We continue to hear from member-owners who desire ultra-fast internet service for their home, farm or business. We see elected officials talk about the need for broadband in rural areas. The need is real as most people expect to communicate and conduct business with each other 24/7/365. Broadband is the electricity of the 1930s and 1940s. Much like we did with electricity in 1938, we’re going to provide real, affordable broadband to our members starting in 2018.
Broadband is used to mean any high-speed Internet access that is always on and is faster than traditional dial-up access. The newest technology utilizes fiber technology to deliver speeds up to 1 Gig (1,000 Mbps, megabits per second)—this is 100x faster than what the average home or business can get currently. Fiber is more reliable than other types of networks because it is less prone to interference and complications from lightning and other natural elements. If all goes well, SEMO Electric via GoSEMO Fiber will offer a triple play option to you – a bundle of three services including ultra-fast internet, high definition television and digital phone.
The entire build out will take several years. However, we are off and running with phase one. We have started construction for members served by the Miner Substation. It will take about four to five months before Miner-area members can subscribe to the services. In simple terms, here are the basic construction steps to fiber service: 1) design and engineer the fiber network route; 2) complete make-ready work to prepare existing power poles for fiber construction; 3) pull or plow fiber from the substation; 4) splice and test the fiber network; 5) install a connection near your existing electric meter; and 6) install connections inside your home or business. If you live in the Miner area, please call us to see if your address is in the first construction phase.
If you are interested in broadband services, please call us or visit gosemofiber.com and provide your name and address. Then, we will contact you as soon as delivery dates are established. We have already had more than 600 people contact us. The interest is there. People are ready. Once we complete Miner, we plan to start with substations in Advance and Bloomfield.
As a not-for-profit electric cooperative, SEMO Electric allocates our annual operating margins to members receiving service during the year. These margins (revenue in excess of expenses) are allocated using a proportional ratio and are called capital credits. They are used by the co-op for operating funds and are paid back to members as the financial condition of the cooperative permits and as directed by SEMO Electric’s bylaws.
For the 23rd consecutive year, the board of directors authorized the distribution of capital credit retirements to member-owners in the amount of $800,000. The total includes funds from 1982, 1983 and a portion from 2016.
Watch your mailbox. We will mail capital credit checks during the first part of October to member-owners’ most current address listed on the co-op’s records. If the amount is $10 or less, the amount will be carried over to next year.
Energy Rates for 2018
Looking ahead to 2018, it is likely we will increase energy rates for the first time since January 1, 2013. Why? Several things cost more today than they did five years ago. Team SEMO has worked hard to absorb price increases in wholesale electricity costs for the past five years. For 2013, power costs totaled about $17.5 million. For 2017, power costs may be close to $19.5 million for a similar amount of energy. Wholesale electricity costs account for approximately 67% of the co-op’s operating budget.
Please know we understand each business decision we make impacts member-owners’ electricity rates. We try to contain costs and make prudent business decisions. For example, we have streamlined our warehouses for more efficient order fulfillment and materials management, we utilize iPads for service orders instead of using paper orders and we have increased tree trimming to reduce outages and enhance reliability. We are trying to do the right thing(s).
Congratulations to SEMO Electric’s Sonny Clark. After 27 years of service, he retired to chase his personal dreams. Sonny served the cooperative in many ways, but was probably best known for helping design and engineer new services for member-owners. Best wishes Sonny… enjoy your next chapter!
Book of the Month
“All of us need a purpose. Work without purpose (even if it takes great skill) can become mindless, heartless drudgery. Add purpose, even to so-called grunt work, and our work lives take on an expanded, even inspired dimension.” Lorin Woolfe – Leadership Secrets from the Bible
Be smart. Act safe.
Vanslyke is general manager and chief executive officer of SEMO Electric Cooperative. Photos include Sean with Sonny Clark on his retirement day and Sean discussing rural broadband with Missouri Governor Eric Greitens and United States Senator Roy Blunt.