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Surry receives Wi-Fi donation

Sustainable power company sPower has donated $13,000 toward Wi-Fi hot spots in Surry County.

The donation will allow Surry County Public Schools to buy and install 10 Wi-FI units across the county by Aug. 21. When installed, each unit can support five simultaneous users.

The Surry project is part of a larger initiative by sPower to expand high speed internet access in rural communities where the company is present.

“We are incredibly grateful to sPower for their efforts to ensure that students in Surry County have access to online learning tools this fall,” Dr. Serbrenia Sims, superintendent of Surry County Public Schools, said in a statement. “As we finalize our plans for the fall, we recognize that many families don’t have access to the internet, making it hard for students to stay on top of schoolwork and catch up from the spring. This donation will help all students in the county, and residents still working from home, access online resources.”

The school division plans to announce the exact locations for the new hot spots in the coming weeks.

One of sPower’s projects is Cavalier Solar. The solar facility, which is under development about five miles southeast of Elberon, will produce up to 240 megawatts once it’s operational. The solar farm will occupy about 1,390 acres in Surry and 360 acres in Isle of Wight County, according to the project’s website.

Cavalier Solar will use solar panels installed on private property “owned by farmers who are interested in diversifying their income while continuing to farm portions of their land,” the company said. “Virginia is a key state for sPower with four active projects under development and potential for more. As a long-term partner for both the state and counties, we are excited to partner with local schools, businesses, nonprofits and landowners,” the company said.

Salt Lake City, Utah-based sPower owns and operates more than 150 renewable power generation systems nationwide. The company touts that its projects provide workforce opportunities, strengthen the economy, increase local tax revenues, and require almost no services from the communities in which they operate while providing environmentally sustainable electricity generation.

“Access to the internet is a growing issue as more schools plan to continue at least some component of online learning this fall,” sPower spokeswoman Cat Mosley said in the Wi-Fi initiative announcement. “This is a critical issue, which is why we are dedicating resources to make sure that every student in Surry County has the ability to learn online. We are excited about this partnership with Surry County Public Schools.”