South Hadley is going full community network! The town of South Hadley last month approved a proposal by the South Hadley Electric Light Department (SHELD) to build a community network for its 17,000 citizens. This is despite South Hadley having two internet providers already: Verizon and Comcast.
SHELD is a municipal light plant allowed under Massachusetts law that already manages electricity for the town. Northampton does not have a municipal light plant. Northampton could choose to create a municipal light plant to create its community network, but does not need to do so.
One of the more interesting aspects of South Hadley’s initiative is that it will facilitate automatic metering:
While evaluating plans to provide Internet access, electric department management realized that current meters needed to be replaced, providing a perfect opportunity to upgrade to smart meter technology that could be integrated into the fiber network. This technology could help the utility better manage the electric grid load and respond to outages, ultimately saving SHELD money and improving customer experience. “It’s the future [of electric service],” Fitzgerald explained to the board. “If your power goes out, we will know maybe even before you do.”
Construction will start next year and will take five years to complete.
If you haven’t already signed our petition to Mayor Narkewicz and the City Council, please do. Also, it’s important to discuss our initiative with your neighbors and friends, and encourage them to sign our petition too.
Mayor Narkewicz: doesn’t Northampton deserve a community network too?
Yes, as a lifelong (as in born in, and lived in, Noho, since 1983), I would like Northampton to create non-profit Internet access.