In late July, Governor Newsom signed SB 156, authorizing a $6 billion infrastructure investment to supply high-speed broadband internet access to unserved or underserved (i.e., slow internet connection) homes and businesses statewide by building a statewide open-access, middle-mile network and funding last-mile network construction. I helped advocate for this bill’s passage through my role representing the interests of rural counties on the California State Association of Counties’ (CSAC) Broadband Taskforce and will continue advocating for legislation that will enable all Nevada County residents to benefit from 21st century digital infrastructure. (See CSAC’s letter to the editor about this legislation and my role advocating for it here.)
Here in Nevada County, we are beginning to implement a grant from the California Emerging Technology Fund that will help us develop a programmatic EIR for broadband projects. This is a tool that will help streamline the environmental reviews associated with broadband projects, which often involve digging trenches and installing towers or other equipment that could potentially have environmental impacts. We continue to hear that having that programmatic EIR in place will not only place Nevada County at the forefront of rural counties seeking innovative ways to expand high-speed internet access as quickly as possible, but it will also make us a much stronger candidate to receive a share of the $6 billion coming from the state in support of such projects.