Electrifying the World
OEC lineman Derec Janaway was selected to lead a team of eight volunteer linemen — including OEC District Lineman Brad Scott — to electrify remote communities in the northwestern part of Guatemala this coming fall. Janaway traveled to Bolivia in 2016 for a similar cause.
“Bringing electricity to areas that have none takes us back to our roots of rural electrification,” says Chris Meyers, Oklahoma Association of Electric Cooperatives (OAEC) general manager.
The volunteers — organized by OAEC — will build power lines in the village of Pie del Cerro and potentially in neighboring village Tierra Blanca Salinas. Both communities are tucked away near a rainforest in the region of Ixcán, close to the border of Mexico. Collectively, the communities have approximately 100 households, five churches, two elementary schools and two health centers — all without access to reliable and affordable electricity. The locals live in humble means without running water, food refrigeration, or the ability to use electronic appliances for house chores or to aid in their economic growth. The villagers depend on farming operations for economic sustainment; they produce corn, beans, cardamom seeds, cocoa and some vegetables.
A local utility, Empresa Municipal Rural de Electricidad (EMRE), based in Playa Grande, Ixcán, will maintain the power lines once they are built. Most of the terrain will be flat, but about one mile of line will be built in dense rainforest surroundings. The homes will receive at least two light bulbs and two electric outlets.
More information about their journey to Guatemala will be available this fall.