$20 million in federal grants available to help with utility pole replacement costs
FRANKFORT, Ky. (Aug. 31, 2022) – Further advancing his commitment to bring high-speed internet to unserved areas across the commonwealth, today Gov. Andy Beshear announced another $20 million in grant funding to assist eligible internet providers with utility pole replacement costs. Expenses must be associated with expanding high-speed internet access in unserved areas, to residents and businesses currently without access or with low internet speeds.
“Delivering high-speed internet access to individuals and businesses in unserved areas of the commonwealth is critical to both to our economic prosperity and our educational future,” Gov. Beshear said. “By reimbursing a portion of utility pole replacement costs needed to support high-speed internet expansion, we can help bring that internet service to more individuals, businesses and communities across Kentucky.”
Grant funding was included in House Bill 315, enacted by the 2022 General Assembly and signed into law by Gov. Beshear, which appropriated $20 million in federal American Rescue Plan dollars to establish the Kentucky Rural Infrastructure Improvement Fund (KRIIF).
An unserved area is defined as one where a minimum of 25 megabits per second (Mbps) downstream and 3 Mbps upstream is unavailable.
Projects eligible for these grants include the construction, development or improvement of infrastructure to support the deployment or expansion of high-speed internet service with a minimum speed of 100 Mbps downstream and 100 Mbps upstream in those unserved areas.
The evaluation of applications and awarding of grants from KRIIF will be administered by the newly created Office of Broadband Development, which is charged with fostering and expanding high-speed internet access to support job creation and economic development while also meeting the needs of Kentucky citizens, who rely on it for news, information, education, health care and entertainment.
Eligible applicants include any retail internet providers that incur actual and reasonable costs for an eligible utility pole replacement needed to accommodate attachments used to deliver high-speed internet service to residences and businesses within an unserved area. The maximum grant amount is capped at $5,000 per replaced utility pole, but the award cannot exceed 50% of the total cost for each utility pole replaced. Eligible costs must be incurred on or after July 1, 2022, which is the effective date of the funding.
Application Filing Window
Grant applications will be accepted beginning on Sept. 1, 2022, and will remain open until all funds have been exhausted. KRS 224A.1123(4)(h) requires the Office of Broadband Development to make awards within 60 days of the receipt of a completed application establishing the eligibility of costs for reimbursement. Any application pending at the exhaustion of the fund will be considered denied but may be reconsidered if sufficient funds are later available.
The application and all grant eligibility criteria are available at kia.ky.gov. Completed applications should be submitted to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Better Internet Program
On June 20, 2022, Gov. Beshear announced a historic investment of over $203 million to expand reliable and affordable high-speed internet to more than 34,000 Kentucky families and businesses.
This first round of funding awarded through the Governor’s Better Internet Program is providing more than $89.6 million in 47 grant awards to 12 internet service providers and local governments across 36 Kentucky counties. Grant recipients also pledged funds to match the state’s contributions, bringing the total investment for the first round of high-speed internet expansion awards to over $203 million.
The awards were the first made under the newly created Kentucky Broadband Deployment Fund, a bipartisan agreement enacted by the General Assembly and signed into law by Gov. Beshear. The fund was created to assist private sector entities and governmental agencies in the cost of constructing the “last mile” of high-speed internet access to unserved and underserved households and businesses across Kentucky.
The fund includes $300 million earmarked for the construction of high-speed internet infrastructure to connect unserved and underserved areas.
Combined with at least 50% required matching federal investments, a minimum of $600 million will support high-speed internet expansion in Kentucky, creating more than 10,000 direct and indirect jobs.