Holy Cross Energy announced that Phase I of their broadband infrastructure project in the Roaring Fork Valley is complete. The three-phase project brings “middle mile” broadband infrastructure to several communities in both the Roaring Fork Valley as well as the Eagle River Valley. Middle mile infrastructure is, according to the Colorado Broadband Office, “The telecommunication network of robust, high-speed fiber or fixed wireless that brings broadband close enough to a residence or business so an internet service provider may provide internet access. Middle mile connects to the global internet backbone.” This improved infrastructure plan also serves to diagnose outages, dispatch energy resources in real-time, and increase reliability between Holy Cross Energy data centers in an emergency.
Phase I of the project improves fiber connectivity over a 41-mile stretch between Glenwood Springs and Aspen. Construction of Phase II begins later this summer, connecting Avon and Gypsum, and Phase III will connect the first two phases with a link over Cottonwood Pass. Holy Cross Energy’s fiber and broadband director, Manuel Gomez, states “HCE’s primary goal is to increase reliability and to dispatch energy resources in real-time. We are also excited to utilize our fiber where available to support our member and communities by providing access to a strong fiber network.”
The decision to pursue middle mile projects was made by the HCE board of directors to support systems operations and increase connectivity to the community. Holy Cross Energy will not provide retail internet services, but instead has partnered with both public and private entities to increase fiber infrastructure by subleasing the fiber network to regional internet providers. As of today, the only lease on HCE’s fiber infrastructure is through a partnership with the Northwest Colorado Council of Government, which provides middle mile broadband services to Pitkin County, the City of Aspen, the Town of Basalt, and the Town of Snowmass Village.