January was a busy month in our “crowd” as we received 378 new expressions of interest. A growing number of those expressions is coming from what we call “Remote” backers, or those who are not served electrically by MEC. We’ve earned quite a reputation well beyond our electric service footprint, and people simply can’t wait to have access to our fiber internet option.

Our response is always the same: co-op members first. But we’re now less than two years from finishing our southwest Michigan deployment, and beginning to think about our next steps to expand service. Early this year we will present a recommendation to the board of directors about how to approach options for our southeast Michigan and northern Ohio members, and how to extend service into non-member areas. The growth opportunity for this service is extraordinary. Like our tagline says: Together Our Future is Bright!

While this brutal winter has slowed our underground crews, we are moving along nicely on our construction and installation schedule. Here’s the latest and greatest for our 2018 zones:

North Marcellus/South Lawton: Just last week we started home installs on two of our three circuits, ahead of our second quarter projection. Some are now enjoying their fiber-speed experience, and others will follow over coming weeks and months.

Union: Walk-out work is complete off all four circuits, and mainline construction is underway on three of the circuits. As a reminder, we have four circuits coming out of this substation, so work will be a little more staggered and some will be connected earlier than others. The final steps of construction begin this week on one circuit and we will begin home installs soon. The other circuits will follow and we expect to be in full home install mode by the third quarter.

West Three Rivers: Walkout work is underway and mainline construction will begin in the second quarter. We still expect for home installs to start during the third quarter.

Jones: Things are still quiet for the newest zone added to our 2018 construction plan, but we fully expect walkout work to begin in the second quarter and home installs to start sometime during the fourth quarter.

We continue to receive heartfelt words of thanks from new subscribers, including this from Jeannie in Marcellus: “My children all live in towns or cities where cable internet is available, and I felt like a second-class citizen with my slow, expensive internet service. Now we have internet that we can use any time of the day and we don’t run out of our data allowance or get charged extra for going over. My son couldn’t play his online games and we couldn’t use Netflix or Hulu.  Now we can do anything we want online any time we want. This new internet service is a dream come true!”