$15 million in grant funding from The American Rescue Plan for improving reliable broadband in San Juan County
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Rep. Rick Larsen (WA-02) applauded the announcement by Washington State Department of Commerce of $121 million in grants for 19 broadband construction projects that will deliver reliable, high-speed internet access to nearly 15,000 households across the state. This includes $26,157,178 for six projects in Point Roberts, Bow and the San Juan Islands in Washington’s Second Congressional District.
The grant funding announced by the WA Department of Commerce comes from the state’s investment of the federal Coronavirus Capital Project Fund, which was established as part of the American Rescue Plan in March 2021.
“Thanks to the American Rescue Plan, reliable, high-speed internet is coming to more communities in Northwest Washington,” said Larsen, who serves as the lead Democrat on the Transportation & Infrastructure Committee. “Congress must build on bold, long-term investments in broadband like the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to close the digital divide and ensure more people in rural and underserved communities can log on for job opportunities, grow their business, access telehealth appointments, do homework, and connect with family and friends.”
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, an estimated 735,000 people in Washington state do not have an internet connection in their homes. An additional 500,000 households rely solely on limited cell phone data plans, while 30,000 households still use slower dial-up services.
Six WA-02 Projects Benefit from Broadband Grants
Three utility providers located in Washington’s Second Congressional District were awarded $26,157,178 in grants for six broadband projects, including:
- Orcas Power and Light Co-Op:
- $6,446,206 for the Outer Islands project
- $3,911,649 for the Orcas Island East project
- $3,352,904 for the San Juan Island project
- $1,242,168 for the Orcas Island West project
- Port of Skagit County – $8,054,251 for the Bow Outlying Areas FTTx project
- Whatcom PUD No. 1 – $3,150,000 for the Point Roberts FTTx project
Additionally, the Tulalip Tribes was recently awarded $167,504 through the U.S. Treasury’s Coronavirus Capital Project Fund for Tribal Governments to purchase connectivity technologies to facilitate internet access for Tribal members.
Larsen a Champion of Broadband Investments
Larsen has long been a supporter of robust federal investment to deliver reliable, high-speed internet to more Northwest Washington communities.
- Bipartisan Infrastructure Law – Larsen supported the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, which invests $65 billion over five years to deliver affordable, high-speed internet to every American. To date, Washington has received $5 million through the Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment Program (BEAD) to help provide access to high-speed internet across the state. In addition, about 272,000 households in Washington are enrolled in the Affordable Connectivity Program. Households can check their eligibility, sign up and find fully covered internet plans at GetInternet.gov.
- Fiscal Year 2024 Spending Bill – Larsen supports Reps. Abigail Spanberger (VA-07) and Zachary Nunn’s (IA-03) bipartisan request to provide robust funding for rural broadband initiatives at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, including the ReConnect Program, in the upcoming Agriculture spending bill.