Large-scale broadband expansion on the way for Hayden and Craig

Earlier this week, the Yampa Valley Electric Association was awarded a grant that will help connect over 400 homes and businesses in Craig and Hayden to high-speed internet.

YVEA was awarded a little over $3 million as part of $22.8 million in broadband grants given to 15 projects, which are expected to help connect 4,267 homes and businesses across Colorado.

“When we received funding from the federal government last year through the COVID relief bills and the American Rescue Plan, we decided to set aside some of that funding for broadband, particularly in rural and high-cost areas,” said state Rep. Dylan Roberts, who represents Eagle and Routt counties.

The money was awarded by the Broadband Deployment Board and is a mix of federal and state funds. In 2021, the Colorado General Assembly approved and Gov. Jared Polis signed a piece of bipartisan legislation instructing the state treasurer to direct $35 million from the economic relief and recovery cash fund toward awarding grants to proposed broadband deployment projects throughout the state.

Lawmakers such as Roberts, who was a co-sponsor of the bill, are describing the expansion of broadband infrastructure as an investment in rural Colorado.

“(The new broadband connections) would definitely include ranches,” Roberts said. “It would include businesses in Hayden or Craig, but it could also be people who work from home or run their business out of their home.”

In the eight-year history of the Colorado Broadband Deployment Board, $22.8 million is the most funding awarded during one of its grant cycles. Lawmakers hope the money will help Colorado lawmakers achieve the state’s goal of connecting 99% of Colorado to “fast, reliable internet” by 2027.

Eleven counties will benefit from the most recent cycle of grant funding including Adams, Douglas, Dolores, Clear Creek, El Paso, Moffat, Montrose, Ouray, Pueblo, Routt and Yuma.

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“As a matter of equity, making sure that all parts of our state, not just the cities, not just the towns, but everybody who wants to have a reliable connection to broadband should be able to get (broadband internet) at an affordable price,” Roberts said.

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