Midwest Energy Cooperative received the prestigious Utilities Technology Council (UTC) APEX Award during the Telecom & Technology 2017 conference in May. The annual celebration dinner, sponsored by Fujitsu Network Communications, recognizes utilities and individuals who have shown extraordinary initiative throughout the past year.

The APEX Award honors an electric, gas, or water utility that has implemented innovative projects, taken action, or initiated procedures that leverage communications technologies or information systems resulting in demonstrated benefits and positive impact on the communities they serve. Recipients are selected by a panel of utility experts based on overall system design, utility telecom sharing with public safety, and use of utility telecom for community development.

Midwest won for its leadership in implementing a robust, fiber communications infrastructure across its electric distribution grid. This upgrade will power utility solutions into the future, giving Midwest access to real-time information and data to improve reliability, safety, energy efficiency and other smart grid applications. Midwest is leveraging that investment to deploy fiber internet solutions to its largely unserved and underserved rural membership in southwest Michigan. Now in the third year of a five-year deployment, Midwest has more than 4300 active subscribers and is adding about 250 each month.

“People choosing the rural space need and deserve the same amenities enjoyed by their urban counterparts, but the digital divide that separates rural and urban America limits folks from taking advantage of opportunities that come when you marry smart grid infrastructure with the internet of things,” said Bob Hance, president/CEO of Midwest Energy Cooperative.

“Geography should not define your scope of opportunity,” he continued. “We’re changing the landscape, providing previously unknown opportunities for homes and businesses, while creating an environment in which communities can grow and thrive.”