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Why Valley Electric Association Is Giving Money Back To Its Customers

The Valley Electric Association is giving hundreds of dollars back to its customers and even to its former customers with the profits from a sale of one of its transmission lines.

The association is a cooperative started 52 years ago as a way to bring electricity to 6,000 square miles of rural Nevada, which includes Pahrump, Sandy Valley, Amargosa, and Beatty.

But the checks for more than $500 are not the only thing the association is doing with the profits from the sale. It is also investing in communication infrastructure that will bring fiber optic, high-speed broadband to homes in its service area.

Tom Husted, the CEO of the association, told KNPR’s State of Nevada that communication is just as important as power, water, and sewer.

“In this day and age, communication is also critical vital infrastructure and in those rural areas just like 52 years ago somebody has got to step up and do it,” he said.

Just like in the 60s when power companies didn’t think running electricity to rural areas was worth the cost, communication companies have felt it was not worth it to bring high-speed broadband to the rural areas.

But Husted said having that communication system is more important in the state’s rural communities than in its urban centers.

“High-speed communications is the lifeblood to the success of these rural areas even more so than in the urban areas,” he said.

The communication infrastructure will give an economic boost, improve healthcare and provide more educational opportunities to the rural areas, Husted said.

And he believes the investment will help all of Nevada because people will want to stay in rural towns and cities, which means those communities won’t have to rely on the state for more tax funds to stay afloat.

“We think we’ve got a blueprint that could be taken off our service area and extend it all the way across the state,” Husted said.

In addition, the infrastructure that is being put in will be better than that seen in Nevada’s urban areas.

“This allows our consumers to have the most robust communication system in the state of Nevada,” Husted said, “One of the only places in the United States that has true fiber optics throughout.”



Tom Husted, CEO, Valley Electric Association

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Joe Schoenmann joined Nevada Public Radio in 2014. He works with a talented team of producers at State of Nevada who explore the casino industry, sports, politics, public health and everything in between.