Despite deficit amid pandemic, GCET manager says strong demand for services returning

  • JOHN LUNT

Staff Writer
Published: 7/26/2020 6:05:51 PM

GREENFIELD — Greenfield Community Energy and Technology (GCET), the city’s municipal internet and cable company, ended fiscal year 2020 on June 30 with a deficit, but General Manager John Lunt says the company will grow as Greenfield reopens.

“We had a deficit because we didn’t receive the $175,000 Community Development Block Grant — state and federal governments were overloaded during COVID-19 — we had expected to receive in fiscal 2020,” he said. “We will be getting that money this year, though, and we can see that by the end of fiscal 2021, we’ll be self-sustaining like was always planned, and won’t need grants to help us along. It’s always tough with a start-up.”

Lunt reports the pandemic had an impact on GCET’s performance over the past three to four months, since the city shut down, as it wasn’t able to grow as planned during that time. During the shutdown, Lunt said GCET wasn’t able to go into people’s homes and do installations.

However, the company did provide service to the city’s Emergency Operations Center to make sure it could run smoothly and remotely, and worked with Greenfield schools to make sure every student was connected, for free, to the internet so that they could learn remotely.

“We didn’t want anyone left behind,” he said. “That will most likely end when students are back in school full-time, but we obviously don’t know when that will happen.”

Lunt said GCET is also working on providing discounts for seniors, people with disabilities, veterans and low-income residents.

“We’re trying to figure out where we can help, especially during a crisis,” he said.

Once Greenfield started reopening, Lunt said GCET began following Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines so that staff could go into residents’ homes to do installations.

“We’ve got a strong demand for services again, especially with many people still working from home and with schools and camps closed,” he said. “July is the first month we’re back to normal.”

Over the past two years, Lunt said GCET has seen its billing double.

“Our growth has been very strong,” he said. “We are heading to North Greenfield now, and then to Deerfield Street. We just ask that everyone be patient. We will get to you.”

GCET expects to add about 1,000 new customers by the end of the year, Lunt added.

“We serve about 3,000 people, 1,300 households right now,” he said. “We’re serving about 83 percent of the city’s population and hope we’ll be at 90 percent by the end of the year.”

Lunt said GCET is saving Greenfield residents, as a whole, about $1 million dollars a year, versus other internet and cable options.

Reach Anita Fritz at 413-772-9591 or afritz@recorder.com.




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