High-speed internet is no longer a luxury; it is becoming a necessity. As reliable high-speed options have become the norm across significant portions of America and the world, much of rural America has remained unserved and underserved.

Wolverine Power Cooperative has partnered with Michigan co-ops to explore the possibility of working together to provide broadband internet to their members. The first step is a feasibility study. Wolverine has contracted Conexcon to conduct a study with eight of Michigan’s electric distribution cooperatives. The study will gauge interest in this service for the future as well as look at the potential financial implications of providing such a service in rural Michigan.

“It made sense to work together on the study,” said Joseph Baumann, Wolverine’s vice president. “Doing so provides economies of scale, demonstrates greater average density per mile, and brings excitement to the cooperative community as a whole.”

Although the study is only in its third month of gathering the data needed to determine feasibility, Baumann knows the next step in the process.

“Each cooperative will receive the data specific to their footprint and their member-owners with which to make their own decisions,” said Baumann.

As for a timeline, Baumann says that it’s still in the works.

“Before moving forward, we must first determine whether Michigan’s electric cooperative systems are the appropriate vehicle (and their member-owners are sufficiently interested) to implement such a project,” he stated.

Eighty years ago electric cooperatives brought power and light to rural America when nobody else would. Perhaps broadband internet will be next?