Fiber Project

What SVEC is Doing

SVEC is installing an internal fiber optic network that will connect the electric infrastructure and our offices to provide improved communication system wide, greater operational reliability and enhance cybersecurity.

What SVEC isn’t Doing

SVEC will not be an Internet Service Provider or deliver broadband internet to members’ homes and businesses.

Fiber Project Video

Frequently Asked Questions

Is SVEC entering the broadband business? What does “SVEC will lease fiber space out” mean?

No, the cooperative may act as a “middle mile provider” and does not intend on being an internet service provider (ISP). SVEC may lease available fiber space to an ISP to facilitate broadband service to a member’s home. The cable that we are installing consists of multiple fibers. SVEC will only need a portion of those fibers to serve our electrical needs. The “extra” fibers may be leased to ISPs.

Why is SVEC approaching the project as a “middle mile” provider?

SVEC is an electric distribution cooperative that prioritizes safe and reliable delivery of electric service to our members. The benefit of the fiber network, installed and owned by SVEC, is to improve the functionality and reliability of our system by improving communication among our distribution assets, which include, but are not limited to, substations, safety devices, communication towers and information exchange between our district offices.

What is the fiber project timeline?
  • SVEC is working with contractors who will assist with the make-ready design for the fiber network, as well as obtain the necessary easements from the property owners along the routes.
  • Contractors assisting with the SVEC fiber project can be identified by an “SVEC Contractor” magnet on their work vehicle, as well as other SVEC identification that may include a vest or letter of authority with appropriate SVEC contact information for members who have further questions.
  • Build out of this project will occur in segments over the next several years. Contractor field work began in September 2021 in existing SVEC easements, as well as making door-to-door visits in those areas to obtain updated, signed right-of-way agreements from the landowners, where necessary.
  • Make-ready work includes SVEC’s engineers and contractors assessing the suitability of existing poles for attachments. Engineers must evaluate the structure of the poles to determine whether additional attachments can be made without changes.
What is an easement? Why do you need an easement?
  • Easements are legal documents granting SVEC access to property for the purpose of constructing, operating, and maintaining equipment and lines.
  • Easements also allow for right-of-way maintenance that includes clearing, trimming and removal of vegetation, as well as necessary access for ongoing infrastructure improvement or maintenance.
  • Easements outline general property rights by others while rights-of-way (as its name implies) is a specific property right.
  • Easements are areas designated for overhead and underground utility access and are usually defined when a lot or neighborhood is first platted.
  • Easements are implemented because it is more efficient and less expensive to run utility lines through neighborhoods than around parcels of land.
Shouldn’t you already have an easement on file? Why do you need a new one?

All SVEC members have conveyed certain rights-of-way in prescribed easements by virtue of the allowance for public service utilities to operate as granted by the Code of Virginia. These prescribed easements are further supported by the Terms and Conditions for Providing Electric Distribution Service between SVEC and its members to assure we can perform maintenance, make improvements and/or add attachments to our poles or underground infrastructure as part of the electric grid. In most cases, existing easements are inclusive of all facilities necessary for power or telecommunications distribution and on record in the locality clerk of the court office.

However, in the case of older areas of SVEC service, prior to 1968, easements may not be officially recorded or lack telecommunication attachment as allowed. SVEC cannot deny attachment to its poles by other public service companies, such as telephone, or communication related business, such as broadband. The current effort to expand broadband is prompting SVEC to review all easements with members, and some may need to be updated to reflect the current legal environment.

Current ISP partnerships

SVEC supports the expansion of broadband internet service capability to all areas of our service territory and particularly those underserved and lacking this connectivity now. The fiber utility network being constructed by SVEC has internal value and will improve system functionality and reliability for our members. Additionally, the capacity of our fiber may allow any internet service provider to potentially use SVEC’s fiber for delivery of broadband through an agreement to lease “dark fiber” (unused fiber) from SVEC. There are several telecommunications providers in SVEC’s service territory who are actively constructing broadband delivery projects using our poles. SVEC is pleased to be supportive in these efforts to potentially benefit our members.

Will this affect electric rates?

Like any long-term capital investment the cooperative makes, the fiberoptic upgrades will incur maintenance costs over time that will be among the factors considered by the board of directors in determining any potential adjustment to SVEC’s rates.