The Post Road Foundation Announces Selection of a Community Partner for Further Feasibility Analysis

The Post Road Foundation has selected the Presque Isle Electric & Gas Co-op (PIE&G) for a full, detailed study on the feasibility of deploying a fiber optic communications network to homes, businesses and other institutions in northeast Michigan, including utility applications that could take advantage of the network. This study will complete the work initiated under a preliminary feasibility study undertaken under a grant from Post Road awarded in 2018. Northeast Michigan and PIE&G is the first community in the nation to be selected by the Post Road Foundation for this full, feasibility study. The PIE&G study, targeted for completion by March 31, 2020, will be used to evaluate the most effective means for financing the deployment of high-speed internet and intelligent infrastructure in PIE&G’s service territory to promote digital inclusion, efficient resource management and economic growth. Funding for the Post Road Foundation program, and related research at Harvard University, has been provided by The Rockefeller Foundation.

PIE&G’s successful selection was the result of collaboration between PIE&G, Wolverine Power Cooperative (WPC) and Target Alpena Economic Development Corporation. According to Tom Sobeck, President and CEO of PIE&G, “This partnership between PIE&G, WPC and Target demonstrates what can be accomplished when we work together to achieve common goals on behalf of our rural communities. The degree of economic success in our region depends very much on the ability of key community stakeholders to identify opportunities where working together maximizes future economic development and sustainability in northeast Michigan.”

The President and co-founder of the Post Road Foundation, Seth Hoedl, commended PIE&G: “Throughout the course of the preliminary study that led to this award, we have been deeply impressed by everyone we have worked with at PIE&G. We are excited to have the opportunity to continue to work with Tom and his team as we develop effective ways to achieve the goal of access to high-speed internet for everyone in America. We are grateful to all the other communities we have partnered with on preliminary studies and remain committed to helping those communities find ways to finance their fiber-to-the-home networks. We are also grateful to The Rockefeller Foundation for the funding that made this program possible and to our colleagues at the Harvard Kennedy School and Harvard Law School for their research and insights.”

“We are excited about this significant milestone towards increased digital inclusion in rural communities, and are grateful to each community that has taken the journey with the Post Road Foundation,” said Lorenzo Bernasconi, Managing Director of Innovative Finance at The Rockefeller Foundation. To scale our innovative finance solutions and make them a reality, we need a network of partners willing to push the boundaries and set the example for the rest of the country. We look forward to the next phase of this important work.”

Presque Isle Electric & Gas Co-op, a not-for-profit cooperative utility, provides economical, reliable electric and natural gas service to member homes, farms and businesses across nine counties in northeast Michigan. Providing services the cooperative way positions PIE&G as a regional leader in jobs promotion and economic growth in northeast Michigan.

The Post Road Foundation’s non-profit, research platform bridges the gap between communities and investors by exploring ways to reduce barriers to the development, financing, and deployment of sustainable, intelligent infrastructure, particularly in places lacking 21st century communications.

The Rockefeller Foundation advances new frontiers of science, data, policy, and innovation to solve global challenges related to health, food, power, and economic mobility. As a science-driven philanthropy focused on building collaborative relationships with partners and grantees, The Rockefeller Foundation seeks to inspire and foster large-scale human impact that promotes the well-being of humanity throughout the world by identifying and accelerating breakthrough solutions, ideas and conversations. For more information, sign up for our newsletter at and follow us on Twitter @RockefellerFdn.