OKLAHOMA CITY - The Oklahoma Association of Electric Cooperatives (OAEC) has selected a group of volunteer linemen to electrify a remote village in the northwestern part of Guatemala this coming October. The announcement comes after a successful electrification project that took place in the country of Bolivia in the year of 2016, when volunteers from Oklahoma and Missouri’s electric cooperatives brought electricity to two Amazonian villages.
“Bringing electricity to remote areas in developing countries takes electric cooperatives back to their roots,” says OAEC General Manager Chris Meyers. “It reinforces our commitment to improve the quality of life for local communities in our home and abroad.”
The OAEC International Committee, comprised of trustees from the statewide association, selected a team of 13 volunteers and designated three alternates for the upcoming trip.
“We are grateful for the overwhelming response of Oklahoma co-op linemen who are willing to leave their homes for an extended period of time to empower far-away communities,” says International Committee Chairman Jimmy Taylor. “Access to electricity will bring economic empowerment, better access to health care and enhanced safety for these villagers. It’s a life-changing gift.”
The electrification project will be coordinated through the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association’s (NRECA) philanthropic arm, NRECA International Foundation. The project site is located in the department (state) of Alta Verapaz, in northwest Guatemala. The name of the isolated village is Chiis. The project will provide electricity to nearly 45 homes and will consist of 2.8 km of primary line (approximately 1.74 miles) and 2 km of secondary line (1.2 miles). The village of Chiis is isolated and economically vulnerable and mainly produces beans and corn for self-consumption.
The following volunteers were selected to serve on the project: Jason Blalock (Cookson Hills Electric Cooperative, Stigler-Okla.), Jason Childress (East Central Oklahoma Electric Cooperative, Okmulgee-Okla.), Jake Collier (Northwestern Electric Cooperative, Woodward-Okla.), Daniel Franco (Canadian Valley Electric Cooperative, Seminole-Okla.), Darren Frazier (Choctaw Electric Cooperative, Hugo-Okla.), Heath Gossen (CKenergy Electric Cooperative, Binger-Okla.), Team Leader Damon Lester (Indian Electric Cooperative, Cleveland-Okla.), Tim Jenlink (Alfalfa Electric Cooperative, Cherokee-Okla.), Rodney Johnson (Cimarron Electric Cooperative, Kingfisher-Okla.), Clint Mobley (Oklahoma Electric Cooperative, Norman-Okla.), Andrew Pool (Central Electric Cooperative, Stillwater-Okla.), Tyson Potter (Cotton Electric Cooperative, Walters, Okla.), and David Sheets (TCEC, Hooker-Okla.)
Alternates are Jeremy Shaffer (Kiamichi Electric Cooperative, Wilburton-Okla.), Matt Montgomery (Northeast Oklahoma Electric Cooperative, Vinita-Okla.), and Mick Hart (Cimarron Electric Cooperative, Kingfisher-Okla.).
Oklahoma’s electric cooperatives have established a 501(c)3 not-for-profit, The Oklahoma Energy Trails Foundation, to support this cause. All contributions are tax-deductible. To learn more, visit: http://tinyurl.com/energytrails