The Hood River Electric Cooperative formed and incorporated the Communications Access Cooperative Holding Enterprise (CACHE) as an IRS 501[c]12 non-profit cooperative in order to pursue the mission described below. In addition, HREC participated in the formation of LS Networks (www.lsnetworks.net) in order to facilitate connection to areas outside the Hood River Valley and to connect directly to top tier Internet hubs.
To bring benefits to residents, businesses, education, health care and government throughout the communities of the Hood River Valley through the delivery of enhanced Internet and connectivity products and services based on a ‘non-profit’ philosophy.
As a customer of the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA), the Hood River Electric Co-op already had a significant investment in the fiber-optic cable installed on the BPA transmission system. Our participation and investment in LS Networks allows our customers and the community to benefit directly from an asset they were paying for anyway.
As an owner of poles & rights-of-way, we are able to extend fiber into the area at a lower cost than a third party. Joint use of the poles and a sharing of the cost between electrical and Internet/Connectivity businesses could eventually reduce costs for electrical customers.
The situation with advanced Internet and connectivity services was very similar to the power situation in the past. Private, investor owned companies concentrate on high revenue locations first and extend enhanced services to marginal areas later – if ever. They also evaluate feasibility on a short-term return of investment. We take a longer-term view and therefore the economics are favorable in more rural areas. Enhanced/advanced services were needed/desired immediately.
Local schools, including Hood River County Schools District and the Columbia Gorge Community College were previously connected to each other & to the outside world via a variety of techniques. The former scheme would not accommodate all their existing and future needs. Fiber connectivity between the schools and to the LS Networks backbone provided the capacity needed for internal voice/video/data movement and opened a gateway to other districts and higher education institutions.
Enhanced connectivity may attract jobs to the area. HR’s proximity to Portland, and high quality of life make it a good choice for a variety of businesses IF there is reasonable access to metro-grade Internet and connectivity products.
Fiber connectivity opens the door for a variety of utility applications – from distribution system automation to shared services (with other utilities).
BPA Fiber passes through the Parkdale area on the high voltage transmission lines. There is a signal regeneration site at the Parkdale Substation – near the community of Mt Hood. This is our point of connection to LS Networks. Fiber was extended from Parkdale Substation to the City of Hood River – on existing utility poles – with stops at Parkdale & Odell.