This number represents 15 percent of the global population, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. It was not too long ago that rural Oklahoma was included in parts of the world without access to electric service.
Electricity first arrived on rural farms and ranches throughout the United States approximately 80 years ago. Electric cooperative pioneers—empowered by the Rural Electrification Administration (REA)—brought light and power to remote and sparsely populated areas of the U.S. countryside. This access to electricity has significantly improved the quality of life in rural communities of our country. Today, we enjoy benefits that previously only urban areas could partake in such as quality housing, education, health care, and access to the latest technologies and communication tools.
Recently, I had the unique opportunity to wit.ness a community in Central America receive first-time electricity. Oklahoma’s electric cooper.atives sent 13 volunteer linemen, electricians and engineers to empower a small village in rural Guatemala. It was a privilege to see how the mir.acle of electricity will enable 65 families in the village of Chiis to enjoy a better quality of life. From children not having to do homework by candlelight to adults having access to basic ma.chinery that can empower their farming opera.tions, this community is receiving a gift that will not go away; it will remain for generations to come (read details of the project on Page 12 of this edition of Oklahoma Living).
With a desire to see the number of families living without electricity decrease, Oklahoma’s electric cooperatives have established a 501(c)3 not-for-profit, the Oklahoma Energy Trails Foundation. Contributions to the Foundation are tax-deductible. As you turn your lights on this Christmas season, I encourage you to consider giving to the Oklahoma Energy Trails Foundation to help support a 2018 international electrifica.tion project. Your family has been blessed with the gift of light. Won’t you pay it forward?