This week, around 250 Barry Electric Cooperative members will receive surveys in their mailboxes. Bill Shiveley, Barry Electric general manager and chief executive officer, encourages members to complete and return the questionnaires.
"We really want a response to see if our members are in favor of a project to add fiber optic lines to the homes," said Shiveley. "This would add Internet and phone services. Later, we could possibly offer a video package too."
Currently, the cooperative is only in the information gathering stage. If members express interest in the expanded services, Shiveley will present a pilot project idea to the cooperative's board of directors.
"We would start with a pilot project at one of the substations," said Shiveley. "We would probably start with the north Cassville substation because that area covers the residential area and the area north of Exeter and east and north of Cassville."
The pilot project would likely begin with an offer for five to 10 megs of Internet service, unlimited phone service and unlimited long distance service for between $39 and $49 per month, said Shiveley.
At this time, three cooperatives in Missouri have started the process in hopes of offering Internet and phone services. Cooperatives in the northeastern and northwestern portions of the state have received grants for the project.
A cooperative that serves the Lake of the Ozarks area plans to fund the project itself in the same way that Barry Electric is considering.
"Lake Region in Tahlequah, Okla., is almost ready to start offering these services, and Northeastern Oklahoma in Vinita, Okla., is in the study portion like we are," said Shiveley.
If the board approves the services, the pilot project will be completed by a joint effort of Barry Electric and Barry Technology.