The main topic Clendenen addressed was the potential for MTEMC to provide fiber optic broadband internet services at some point. MTEMC is currently doing a broadband feasibility study.
“We want to know if our members want it,” Clendenen said. “We’re not doing anything yet. We’re just trying to understand if there’s a need.”
As part of the broadband feasibility study, paper surveys were distributed to many members, and others have to option to take the survey online.
If there is interest, MTEMC will determine the best avenues to pursue fiber optic services.
“We want to hear from both sides, really,” Clendenen said. “If you want it, great. If not, we still want you to tell us that. We’ve had people call, go on Facebook, email us, and say ‘stick to what you’re good at, just worry about electricity.’ And if that’s how you feel, we want to hear it.”
MTEMC has studied several other places that implemented fiber optic broadband services, including Nashville and Chattanooga.
“We’ve looked at several places, but every place we’ve looked at is a municipality, and we’re a membership co-op,” Clendenen said. “They look at things thinking only about how it affects the bottom line. For us, of course there’s a financial aspect, but our main goal is the provide the best service we can to our membership.”
If MTEMC did eventually move forward with a fiber optic project, fiber optic cables could be underground or woven with existing power lines, Clendenen said.
“We would do what is most financially responsible for our members,” he said.
Prior to working at MTEMC, Clendenen was a public affairs specialist with USDA Rural Development, where he managed communications efforts through subject matter experts across the state.
Clendenen is also a 10-yard United States Air Force veteran with tours of duty that included three years with the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds and a wartime deployment in the Middle East.
For more information about MTEMC, or to take the broadband feasibility study survey, visit mtemc.org.
The Lebanon Noon Rotary Club meets each Tuesday at noon at the Lebanon Golf & Country Club. For more information about the club, visit lebanonnoonrotary.org.