Utilities District of Western Indiana REMC Partners with Mainstream Fiber Networks to Expand Rural Broadband Access  

 BLOOMFIELD, Ind. (April 16, 2024) — The Utilities District of Western Indiana REMC and Mainstream Fiber Networks announced today their partnership in the largest fiber project for the cooperative’s service territory. 

As part of the partnership, Mainstream will focus on establishing broadband connections to unserved and underserved areas within UDWI’s service area, specifically taking a county-wide approach. UDWI will provide advice and assist Mainstream in determining strategically located fiber backbones for broadband projects, which will then connect at least 80 percent of residents and businesses in the area. 

“At Mainstream, we believe that access to reliable internet is not just a luxury but a fundamental necessity for participation in today’s digital economy,” said Mainstream CEO Brian Gabriel. “By extending our reach into rural communities, we are not only unlocking new opportunities for economic growth and innovation but also fostering greater inclusivity and equality of access. This collaboration with UDWI embodies our commitment to bridging the digital divide and empowering every individual with the transformative potential of connectivity.” 

Mainstream will also work on behalf of UDWI to secure broadband development grant funding through federal and state government programs. 

“This strategic partnership will allow Mainstream and UDWI to utilize the electric distribution infrastructure already in place to significantly reduce the cost of building a fiber network,” said UDWI CEO Doug Childs. “This project will substantially improve the quality of life for all of our members, and confirms our dedication to finding efficient pathways to increase fiber access across our service territory.” 

According to Mainstream, construction could begin as early as the second quarter of 2024. Each backbone project will be completed within a year. The entire project is anticipated to take about five years to complete. 

More information on Mainstream can be found at www.msfiber.com. To learn more about UDWI REMC, visit www.udwiremc.com. 


About Mainstream Fiber Networks Founded in Nashville, Indiana, Mainstream Fiber Networks is a Fiber to the Premise (FTTP) internet service provider that understands the need for affordable, high-speed internet in Indiana’s rural communities. Mainstream’s success is based on its customer satisfaction and its partnership with the local communities we serve. To learn more, visit www.msfiber.net. 

Utilities District of Western Indiana REMC (UDWI REMC) located in Bloomfield, Ind., is an electric utility cooperative that serves nearly 16,000 members in Clay, Daviess, Greene, Knox, Lawrence, Martin, Monroe, Owen, Putnam, Sullivan and Vigo counties and maintains over 2,000 miles of line. 

UDWI REMC welcomes two new board members at 2023 annual meeting

BLOOMFIELD, Ind. (April 26, 2023) — The Utilities District of Western Indiana REMC held its 87th annual meeting Tuesday at the cooperative’s headquarters and renewed its slate of officers for its Board of Directors.

Two new directors, Melinda Hendrix, District 4 and David Kirkling, District 1 joined the eight member board, which includes Todd Carpenter, District 2 (re-elected for his third term), Edward Cullison (President), Dax Collins (Vice President), Michael Williams (Treasurer), Sophie Haywood (Secretary), and Shawn Dugan.

“I am honored to be part of the UDWI board and I hope to continue the great work the board has achieved in the last few years,” said Cullison. “As a group, we are aware of the current challenges of reliable power and supply issues, along with controlling expenses, and we will work to stay ahead of them.”

Although this year’s seats were uncontested, the cooperative bylaws require candidates to receive a mandated number of votes from the membership in order to validate the election. UDWI members had the opportunity to cast their votes online or by mail before the annual meeting or in person at the annual meeting, which again produced strong voter participation with more than 1,500 votes cast, accounting for nearly 10 percent of UDWI members.

UDWI CEO Doug Childs’ annual meeting presentation focused on ‘Facing the Future’ and covered a variety of topics including capital improvements, vegetation management, employee accomplishments, and mitigating higher power costs. 

Top priorities for the cooperative in 2023 will focus on replacing/improving aging infrastructure and minimizing the impact of high power supply costs. The cooperative plans to replace between 25 and 30 miles of aging conductor in 2023, approaching UDWI’s all-time annual record.

“We were able to replace nearly 800 utility poles last year and that shows the great work we are getting from our employees and contractors. This work is integral to improving our system reliability,” said Childs. “We’ve tripled our progress from about 10 years ago and we will continue investing in our infrastructure.”

UDWI continues investing in its employees, who recorded over 1,250 hours in training for job skills and safety. These trainings included Hoosier Energy Apprenticeship, Training and Safety (HEATS), Climbing and Advanced Climbing School Programs, and live line pole-top demonstrations. 

Childs also shared the co-op’s commitment to its community. In 2022, UDWI’s Community Fund awarded over $55,000 across 40 charitable organizations throughout the cooperative’s service territory. The group prioritizes funding charities that feed the hungry or assist veterans in UDWI’s 11 counties. In addition, UDWI was able to issue 12,600 capital credit checks, returning over $950,000 to its members. 

“Returning capital credits is one of the least talked about things cooperatives do, but it’s one of the most important,” said Childs. “2022 was a record year for us in returning capital credits and we will continue this effort.”

Childs discussed UDWI’s response to higher power supply costs, which includes contract flexibility with Hoosier Energy to try to help mitigate some of the coming increases. The cooperative will also run its business as tight as it can to minimize as much cost as possible, help educate members on how to wisely use energy and save it when they can, and advocate legislatively for policies that will help energy affordability through the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association and Indiana Electric Cooperatives. 

In addition, Childs discussed the current projects under development in the WestGate area, including housing and microelectronics investments. These projects are estimated to bring over 500 jobs to the area, and UDWI needs to make sure it can keep up with the project from a capital perspective and act as a partner to these companies as they grow and develop. 

Childs’ presentation is available on the UDWI website. The Board of Directors will hold its first meeting of the new term on Monday, April 24 at 6:30 p.m.


Utilities District of Western Indiana REMC (UDWI REMC) located in Bloomfield, Ind., is an electric utility cooperative that serves nearly 16,000 members in Clay, Daviess, Greene, Knox, Lawrence, Martin, Monroe, Owen, Putnam, Sullivan and Vigo counties and maintains over 2,000 miles of line.

UDWI REMC conducts live-line demonstration for Smithville employees

The Utilities District of Western Indiana REMC recently conducted a live-line safety demonstration for Smithville crews in Ellettsville.

The safety demonstration provided Smithville’s crews with several examples of the potential hazards posed by contact with live high-voltage lines and how to safely work around them.

UDWI crews used a live line display during the event, which included a small-scale representation of the equipment UDWI uses in the field. The training equips line workers with the knowledge of how to handle downed power lines and the steps they need to follow during an emergency.

“We are thankful for the partnership with UDWI and their willingness to provide a live line demo to our crews,” said Collin Newcomb, Environmental Health and Safety Manager at Smithville. “It was an important reminder of the potential dangers of high-voltage lines and the various safety protocols to follow when working near them.”

The event was conducted by UDWI team members, Britt Miller (Dispatch Manager) and Michael Nail, and Will Padgett (Journeyman Linemen).

“UDWI has worked hard to be in the position to offer training to others in our community and we take that responsibility very seriously,” said Miller. “We are always looking for new opportunities to engage with the public on safety training and want to thank Smithville for taking the time to let us present to their crews.”

Education, Training, and Information is one of the 7 Cooperative Principles and a top priority for the UDWI team. The co-op has had great success keeping employees and members safe through completing various training and educational programs.

Over the last few years, UDWI has provided public safety training and education to law enforcement, firefighters, EMC personnel, and dispatchers in and around its service territory. In 2018, UDWI developed its own training yard to host training for its own team and other co-ops in the area.

UDWI completed 35 safety training classes, totaling nearly 900 hours in 2022. The cooperative also performed three public safety demonstrations for around 400 people.

“This collaboration with local communications providers is a top priority to ensure the safety of all crews that interact with live electric lines,” said Doug Childs, UDWI CEO. “Public safety is a top priority for UDWI and we will continue to serve our community and members by offering training to interested organizations.”

If your organization is interested in receiving a safety demonstration from UDWI, please contact the office at (812) 384-4446 to schedule a training. To view a video of this live demo or learn more about training opportunities, visit the UDWI website at: www.udwiremc.com/my-services/safety-and-conservation/onsite-safety-yard.

1666 West State Road 54
Bloomfield, Indiana 47424

Hours:  Monday – Friday, 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Office: (812) 384-4446
Toll-Free: (800) 489-7362
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