House Bill 1505
URECC strongly supports rural broadband throughout our service area, but URECC members should not have to pay cable company's expenses to construct and maintain it.
UPDATE - HB 1505
Thanks to our URECC and other co-op members making their voices heard to
their local politicians, HB 1505 has gone through negotiations and amendments have been made. We feel this bill, with the added amendments, will now bring much needed broadband into rural Texas without taking advantage of, nor transferring the financial burden to electric cooperative members/owners.
The following articles and press releases were all posted before the acceptable amendments were made to the bill. Cooperatives now deem the bill as acceptable if no additional changes are made. We have left these postings on this page for you to see the progress that has been made due to Cooperative Members making their voices heard to local, state, and federal politicians.
Many of you by now are wondering why you are just now reading and learning about this. Over the past year or so, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) provided access to billions of dollars (purportedly some $20.4 billion last year), taxpayer / rate-payer dollars, to companies interested in delivering much needed high-speed data to rural America. URECC investigated such an option itself, as we have always been interested in enhancing data services in the rural areas of Northeast Texas. In our review of the process in which these billions of dollars were provided through the FCC, it appears that any awards under the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF) must be fully delivered to each area awarded within ten years, with a majority of the buildout completed in six years. As you might imagine, this is a monumental task and one that would require substantial investment dollars beyond the award, and frankly, one that seems almost insurmountable in some respects.
URECC determined that participation in such an effort was not reasonable or fiscally responsible for itself, and you, the members, and we have therefore been investigating other options to provide a much-needed, more affordable, and timely service to Northeast Texas without the government strings and deadlines. One company did, however, participate in the process and was able to submit a bid low enough that it succeeded in obtaining a purported $23.3 Million in taxpayer /rate-payer dollars to meet the challenge just in the URECC territory. That company is Charter Communications. If Charter is successful in building out a system that can provide service to our members, that will be a good thing. But it also appears that much more capital will be needed to make this formidable goal a reality within the six-to-ten-year time period required by the award. URECC's study indicated it would take some $100 Million for our territory alone. That $100 million would be funded by
What is HB 1505?
Texas House Bill 1505 is a bill that proposes broadband be constructed throughout rural Texas by cable companies attaching lines to electric cooperative poles.
Many URECC members made their voices heard last month by calling local politicians and voicing their objections. Additional negotiations were called because of your actions. Please continue to make the calls and ask why this legislation is still being proposed to take money from rural citizens the legislators should represent?
Why are electric cooperatives opposed to this bill?
The list of reasons to object to this bill is long, but the primary reason URECC opposes this bill is that it will cost URECC members money... and very likely, increase rates.
Just some of the financial expenses include hourly wages for linemen and repairmen to repair and inspect cooperative power poles that these cable companies will be attaching to, drastically decreasing the life expectancy of poles due to increased weight, along with extra wear and tear on pre-existing equipment. There will also be the additional cost of adding more poles per mile of line to help support the added weight of cable company equipment. (As a note, replacing a pole costs between $1000 to $1500 per pole.)
These are just a few of the expenses co-op members WILL be responsible for. The large cable companies accepted huge grants to establish rural broadband. Why is this legislation proposed that would make electric co-op members pay money out of their pockets to do the job cable companies have already been paid to do?