Oregon Trail Electric Cooperative is proud to join forces with the Oregon Rural Electric Cooperative Association (ORECA) and other Oregon co-ops to embark on an ambitious project to electrify a remote village in the mountains of Guatemala. In April, three volunteers from OTEC will join a team of more than a dozen other volunteer linemen and electrical experts from Oregon rural electric cooperatives to bring power to an area that has none, creating a foundation for the village to achieve future economic prosperity and experience an improved quality of life.
This electrification project, called Oregon Empowers Guatemala is coordinated through the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association’s (NRECA) philanthropic arm, NRECA International. It’s made possible by our linemen’s volunteerism and primarily funded through donations from some of Oregon’s cooperatives, national cooperative partners, member-owners and employees.
“Bringing electricity to regions that have none takes us back to our roots of rural electrification”, says Les Penning, CEO of Oregon Trail Electric Cooperative. “Electric cooperatives are well positioned to help overcome the challenge of providing power to over 900 million people living without electricity worldwide. Over the last 50 years, cooperatives have helped bring electricity to over 160 million people in 45 countries.”
The team of volunteers will build an electrical distribution system in the village of Aldea Montanita de la Virgen, in the district of Jalapa, a mountainous region in the southeastern part of the Central American country. The village has 60 two-to three room homes. The center of the village has three structures: a church, a community/health center, and a three-room schoolhouse – all without electricity. Locals live humbly without running water, food refrigeration, or the use of electronic appliances.
The Oregon Empowers Guatemala team will wire all 60 homes and the three community buildings for electricity. The project will include 3.1 miles of primary line and 2.5 miles of secondary line. Most of the terrain consists of steep hillsides.
Representing OTEC and volunteering their time to help the village will be:
Charlie Tracy, OTEC’s Director of Engineering, based in Baker City.
Curtis Eggleston, Line Crew Foreman in Burns.
Tom Higgins, Journeyman Lineman in La Grande.
“We are grateful for the overwhelming response of Oregon cooperative linemen who are willing to volunteer and share their talents to help empower far-away communities”, says Penning, “Access to electricity will bring economic empowerment, better access to health care and enhanced safety for these villagers.”
To learn more how to contribute and for information on the project, visit www.oregonempowers.com
Read more about OTEC’s journey to Guatemala in the March issue of Ruralite.