WA doles out $121M in grants to Ziply, public utility districts

Ziply Fiber, along with a handful of public utility districts (PUDs) and cooperatives, snagged grant awards from the Washington State Broadband Office as it dished out over $121 million for 19 broadband projects.

The money is made available through Washington’s Capital Projects Fund (CPF) allocation, with grant recipients set to cover 14,794 locations across the state.

Orcas Power and Light Co-Op came away with four awards totaling just under $15 million. The projects will deliver symmetrical 2 Gbps broadband across Washington’s San Juan Islands.

The next biggest winner was Tri County Economic Development District (TEDD), which bagged $12 million for its Central Stevens County Hybrid Broadband project. It aims to supply maximum speeds of 100/100 Mbps to Stevens County.

It’s worth noting TEDD is different from a local government entity such as a PUD. A state Department of Commerce spokesperson told Fierce TEDD is the designated associate development organization (ADO) in the region. ADOs, along with their partners, function as the engines for local and regional economic development.

Ziply, in partnership with King County, received around $1.8 million to provide symmetrical gig service in Duvall, Washington. But this isn’t the only project where Ziply is leveraging state funds. Last January, Ziply and Snohomish County scored $16.7 million to construct a fiber network that will cover approximately 5,600 locations.

Also, Yakima County, which this week received an $11.3 million award, is where Ziply’s constructing its 100th fiber build. Separately, Ziply last month rolled out a 10-gig broadband tier that’s available across its entire four-state footprint.

Other notable winners include the PUDs of Franklin County ($4.9 million), Grays Harbor ($6.9 million), Jefferson County ($6 million), Lewis County ($11.96 million), Mason County ($3.6 million) and Whatcom County ($3.15 million).

PUDs play a key role in providing broadband and utilities in Washington. In 2021, the state passed legislation allowing PUDs and port districts to provide retail broadband service as well as tap into federal funding.

The state’s Department of Commerce was unable to provide funding for all applicants, as 50 different projects requested more than $316 million.

According to the spokesperson, Washington received a total CPF allocation of $196 million, with all appropriated resources intended for broadband expansion projects. The state broadband office obtained $124.7 million and that was used for this latest funding round. Remaining CPF funds went to the Washington State Community Economic Revitalization Board ($25 million) and Washington State Public Works Board ($46 million).