Hancock County Chamber sponsor, Kenergy, presented details on high speed internet for the county at the Hancock County Chamber of Commerce Picnic, Tuesday, August 8th. Leslie Barr, Kenergy’s Communications & Public Relations Specialist, spoke along with Leslye Krampe, Business Development Manager at Conexon, to inform the audience on the progress in connecting homes and businesses across 14 counties with high-speed, broadband, fiber internet access.
“We’re very excited about this monumental project that’s coming to all of our Kenergy members and the 4,851 members we serve in Hancock County,” Barr said. “And, Hancock County is the only county that Kenergy serves 100 percent of.”
It has been one year since Kenergy announced their partnership with internet service provider Conexon Connect. They began first connections on February 15th, 2023 in McLean County, and then moved into Daviess. The build-out of fiber will be happening in various areas at the same time, rather than from one county to the next and the 3-year time frame to complete the entire project, Barr said, is “right on track” and moving “full speed ahead.”
Connections began in McLean first, because there was an internet access point there and feeders go into Daviess from that access point, so the build-out has moved forward into Daviess and also Union County. Conexon was awarded $10M of Daviess County’s American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds, which also encouraged the movement in that direction.
“I’m happy to report that we have over 1,000 connected currently across Kenergy’s system,” Barr said, “which goes about 59,000 meters. We’re saying, conservatively, about 47,000 homes & businesses in Kenergy’s service area, so we’re getting there. We had to work out some kinks in the beginning. This fall, things will be going a lot faster. We’ve currently laid about 545 miles of fiber, which is a huge feat to get all the system designed and set up and all of the direct internet access points established.”
Krampe reminded the crowd that this entire project began in Hancock County, with discussions at Hancock County Industrial Foundation meetings. “I worked with Kenergy for about 5 years and was on the Industrial Foundation Board with many familiar faces here,” she said. “Because Kenergy was the only electric provider, it made sense to do a pilot program and try to get Kenergy to be a broadband provider. It was against the state statutes for an electric provider that is regulated by the KY Public Service Commission to get into the broadband business, and took 2 different legislative sessions to get the law changed.”
Announcements of what county will be connected next is contingent upon when state funding is received, Krampe added. “I wish that the governor would give us the money today. He’s holding the purse strings to the federal money that Kenergy has applied for [which determines] where we build-out next.”
Barr echoed that by saying, “access to capital is the huge barrier in how fast this project can move and where we work, but please know that Kenergy, Conexon and our CEO Tim Lindahl, are constantly meeting with federal officials to try and get some of those grants we’ve applied for – monies that we’re waiting for. Leslye (Krampe) was at the governor’s office last week trying to get updates. That money will definitely gage how fast and where the project goes as we roll-out.”
Judge-Executive Johnny Roberts asked about the timeframe of when Kenergy will receive a second allocation of monies. Barr answered that $1.1B from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act is on its way for Kentucky’s allocation for infrastructure, and that it will be announced in January how that process will roll-out. She said Kentucky has somewhere around $200-300 billion already earmarked through the legislation of House Bill 320 & 315, and that they have requested a portion of those dollars, which would go directly to Kenergy and stay in the community.
The Kentucky Office of Broadband Development had stated they would announce the timeline in summer of 2023, but have not yet. “As soon as we get information on that,” Krampe said, “we will be able to disclose where we’re building and a more specific timeline. We don’t want to promise something and then have to change gears after that.”
Sign-up on Website
All Kenergy members are encouraged to go to the website: conexonconnect.com, and select Kenergy as your electric co-op. Type in your name and address, and you will receive an estimated time of connection. Next, check the box with the services you think you’ll be interested in. There is no commitment to stick with the package you choose.
Get Help at Library or Sign-up by Phone
If you don’t have internet, Chamber Executive Director Tina Snyder said the Hancock County Libraries’ crew will be happy to help you sign-up online. You can call Conexon at 844-542-6663 to sign-up as well. Customer service representatives can answer any questions you may have.
Barr said she shares updates on the Kenergy social media channel. You can also follow the Connect Powered by Kenergy Facebook Page for updates. At the very top of Kenergy’s website, kenergycorp.com, there is an orange banner that reads: High-speed internet is here! Check availability. Click on that banner, and all of the Conexon information is there. Kenergy members also receive updates in the newsletters that arrive with your bill each month.
By Jennifer Wimmer