FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Dan Burke
360-378-5884 x 313
Rock Island Poised for Profitability in 2024
San Juan County Internet Crisis Solved
Each year, Cooperative members have an opportunity to catch up on the latest progress and health of their member-owned power company at the OPALCO annual meeting. During this year’s meeting – held this Saturday, April 13th – OPALCO will share updates relating to its wholly-owned subsidiary Rock Island (meeting agenda here). Since not all can attend on the ferry, we wanted to reach out and bring all members up to speed on the progress and success that the Rock Island business has achieved to date.
After four years of start-up building and rapid growth, Rock Island Communications is projecting to break even in 2022 and is forecasting to generate almost $9 million in revenue by 2024. Even better, Rock Island has solved the internet crisis in San Juan County with more than 5,000 internet subscribers online today and is averaging over 150 new subscribers each month. Together with OPALCO, Rock Island has brought San Juan County modern and scalable broadband and voice services.
OPALCO established its wholly-owned subsidiary from its fiber communication department Island Network in 2013 when San Juan County experienced a total communication shut down due to the breakage of CenturyLink’s submarine communications cable. OPALCO invested four key assets to the subsidiary: backbone fiber, low-interest financing, a T-Mobile relationship and the oversight of its highly-experienced Board of Directors.
Rock Island achieved financial independence from OPALCO in 2016 when it paid back its start-up loan of $7.2M. Since that date, OPALCO only provides guarantees on loans for Rock Island, which are backed by the current market value of the subsidiary as a business. The OPALCO Board also conducts extensive reviews of Rock Island’s budgets and business plans, including debt, before taking action. As the parent organization, the Board’s role is to serve the best interests of the OPALCO membership.
“The OPALCO Board has 100% confidence in Rock Island’s current plan, our management team and the progress that Rock Island has made to date,” said Vincent Dauciunas, president of the OPALCO Board of Trustees. ”Start-up companies require investment, and most importantly the promise of revenue to pay those investments back. In our case, that revenue comes from our subscriber base. Capital investments used to expand internet and voice services will be paid back by Rock Island subscribers over the next 20 years. The more co-op members that take a Rock Island service, the faster our company will succeed. Rock Island is doing better than most startups companies; in just four years, it has earned a remarkable 40% share of the market.”
The current Rock Island business plan (www.opalco.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/12/2019-Rock-Island-Business-Plan-FINAL-12_20_2018.pdf) has debt peaking at $26.8M in 2022. Each loan taken out to support Rock Island’s investments has a 20-year term. The Rock Island business plan projects more revenue than required to cover all debt service over this period.
The Rock Island success story is applauded by the NRECA, as well as other industry peers, as a model for rural communities nationwide. This is illustrated in a case study from NRECA written in 2018: https://www.opalco.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/NRECA-Bus-Tech-Strategies_OPALCO-Rock-Island-Case-Study.pdf. Due to Rock Island’s success with this model, T-Mobile US has replicated our strategy and is currently rolling it out across rural America nationwide.
“Please encourage everyone you know to subscribe to Rock Island internet services,” said Foster Hildreth, General Manager of OPALCO and Rock Island. “Doing so will insure the success of this local internet company that we all own, and that will accelerate both its profitability and the community benefits that come along with it.”
Call Rock Island to learn more about connecting today at (360) 378-5884. You can also learn more online at https://rockisland.com, or stop by our offices in Friday Harbor and Eastsound.
About Rock Island Communications
Rock Island Communications provides modern, scalable and reliable Internet services to homes and businesses in San Juan County. They are a wholly-owned subsidiary of Orcas Power & Light Cooperative. For more information, visit rockisland.com.