Lewis County PUD awarded a USDA grant to fund a fiber project covering the Glenoma, Randle, and Packwood areas.

Chehalis, WA – The Lewis County Public Utility District (PUD) was recently awarded a $24,200,086 grant from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to bring fiber optic broadband to the Glenoma, Randle, and Packwood service zones.

This project will serve 2,940 residential and commercial customers in these rural, broadband unserved communities in east Lewis County.

“This is another exciting step on our way to providing broadband to underserved communities in our District,” said PUD General Manager David Plotz. “Thanks to the leadership of our Board and the professional acumen of PUD staff and our regional partners, we are working toward solving this issue and we are grateful the USDA has partnered with us.”

The PUD will operate this infrastructure as an open access network, from which internet service providers will offer service to residential and commercial customers. The grant award addresses the lack of adequate broadband access in the communities of Randle, Packwood, and Glenoma, where 91% of the population doesn’t have access according to a 2020 survey.

“This is an exciting time for Lewis County,” said the PUD’s regional partner Northwest Open Access Network’s (NoaNet) Senior Executive Director of Infrastructure Strategy, Chris Walker. “We are all deeply grateful to USDA and the ReConnect Grant Program for their support and congratulations to everyone at Lewis PUD for their enthusiastic leadership in developing this project. We will drive impactful change in broadband availability and access for the communities of Glenoma, Randle, and Packwood and look forward to our continued collaboration bringing world-class open access, and high-speed broadband to the residents and businesses of Lewis County.”

The network will offer more than a Gigabit per second (Gbps) symmetrical connection speeds with the capacity to serve up to 10 Gbps to residential, commercial, and industrial customers that may require such speeds.

Construction is expected to start in late 2024, with project completion in 2027. The project build will extend the PUD’s current fiber infrastructure located in Morton along State Highway 12 (White Pass Scenic Byway) to Glenoma, Randle, and Packwood.

Feeders will connect with routes that extend north and south of State Highway 12 along existing roads and streets to serve customer connections.

The network design includes 100% of the PUD’s residential and commercial customers in the proposed project area that are not being served adequately by incumbent providers.

The PUD was awarded the 7th highest amount out of the 27 grant awardees across the nation in this fourth funding round of the ReConnect Program. For information on this project, contact PUD Broadband and External Funding Manager Willie Painter by Email.

About Lewis County Public Utility District

Lewis County PUD is a community-owned, locally governed utility providing power services and telecommunications infrastructure to approximately 35,000 customers throughout most of Lewis County and adjacent communities.