Petit Jean Electric to Launch Fiber Broadband Network
Petit Jean Electric Cooperative to launch fiber-to-the-home network, deliver world-class broadband speeds and capabilities to rural Arkansas homes and businesses
Petit Jean Electric Cooperative is launching a fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) network to make available and serve 100% of the 20,000 members in its service territory with world-class broadband speed and capabilities.
Petit Jean Electric’s multi-year deployment will encompass 2,500 miles of fiber to the members in Van Buren, Searcy and surrounding counties served by the co-op. Fiber construction is expected to begin in early 2021 with the first members connected by the fourth quarter of 2021.
Petit Jean Electric’s fiber-to-the-home network will deliver symmetrical gigabit internet capabilities – among the fastest and most robust in the nation. Fiber’s symmetrical gigabit capabilities ensure the same lightning-fast speeds for uploading and downloading, which opens the doors to telemedicine, working from home, seamless distance learning and new tools and applications.
For more than 80 years, Petit Jean Electric’s mission has been to improve the quality of life and provide value to our communities by taking care of our members with high-quality, affordable services. The Petit Jean Electric Board and staff are taking that to a new level by delivering world-class high-speed internet, and bringing the economic, educational and growth benefits of broadband to our communities.
Petit Jean Electric is partnering with rural fiber-optic network design and construction management leader Conexon to design, launch and build the broadband network. Conexon works exclusively with electric cooperatives to deploy fiber to the home throughout rural America and has, to date, assisted more than 200 cooperatives in evaluating, constructing or operating broadband networks.
Petit Jean Electric’s FTTH project is currently in its initial planning stages. Progress will be communicated to cooperative members as decisions are made.
Petit Jean was organized in 1940. The next two years, $5 memberships were solicited from people for “when and if” the cooperative got off of the ground. They realized that electricity could open up a whole new world of possibilities: better health care, better education, safer communities and machinery to make everyday life easier.
The cooperative was incorporated in 1942, and in March of that year, the general office operations were located in Morrilton, thus the name Petit Jean Electric.
In June 1942, Petit Jean bought the light and ice plant and distribution system known as Clinton Light and Ice Company in Clinton. February 1943 saw the location of the principle office become Clinton. At that time there were 780 accounts in Clinton, Shirley, Choctaw, Damascus, Formosa, Bee Branch, Quitman and Guy. The co-op served three counties over 61 miles of line. The average bill was 22 kWh at $2.04, or 9.27 cents per kWh.
By 1950, the cooperative had grown to 3,225 accounts over 671 miles of line. By 1960 the cooperative broke the 5,000 mark and had 1,517 miles of line. Each decade saw the cooperative grow by approximately 2,000 members.
In 1963, an office was built in Marshall to help serve the members in and around Searcy County.
By the turn of the century, Petit Jean had grown to 17,600 accounts over 3,092 miles of line.
In 2001, Petit Jean moved to our current facility. Prior to that time the office had remained at the same location for 58 years in downtown Clinton. We also were proud to upgrade our office facilities in Marshall in 2006.
Today we serve approximately 20,000 accounts over 3,566 miles of line and the cost per kilowatt-hour remains under 10 cents, just like in 1943. We presently employ 63 men and women as full-time employees. We serve members in nine counties and pay real estate taxes to those counties in excess of $500,000 annually.
I’m sure these numbers would boggle the minds of those original incorporators. The monumental task of building the co-op required equally monumental faith to accomplish the goal.
I am thankful for those forefathers of the cooperative as well as the employees, the men and women of the early days who paved the way for us.
For 75 years, our goal has been to improve the quality of life for our members, to provide safe, reliable electricity at the most economical price possible. I hope that you agree with me that we have hit the mark. We won’t sit back and rest though. We will strive to continue the past successes. We pledge to be, as our logo says, “Your connection to the future.”