Randy Evans of First Electric Cooperative of Jacksonville is one of a group of Electric Cooperatives of Arkansas linemen who departed the state this week to continue a mission that the cooperatives began last year to provide electricity to remote Guatemalan villages.
In 2013, a different group of Arkansas electric cooperative linemen assisted in providing electric service to more than 450 rural Guatemala residents.
“The Arkansas electric cooperative linemen that worked in Guatemala last October made a tremendous difference in the lives of the residents of three remote villages,” said Duane Highley, president and chief executive officer of the Electric Cooperatives of Arkansas. “This new group of dedicated men will improve the quality of lives for present and future generations in the next villages that we will help electrify. I join Arkansas electric cooperative members from across the state in expressing my pride in the men for their selfless dedication to serving others.”
Highley said that Arkansas electric cooperatives and ERMCO, a manufacturer of transformers, are donating materials, labor and funds to assist with the project. Cooperative crews will assist in construction of electric distribution lines, related infrastructure and provide some training to local line workers. The villages scheduled to receive service include Las Flores and La Haciendita.
“The mission of the electric cooperatives back in the 1930s and 1940s was to provide electric service to those that otherwise would not be able to have electricity, and we are following the same playbook for our friends in Guatemala,” said Mel Coleman, CEO of North Arkansas Electric Cooperative of Salem and vice president of the NRECA board of directors. “The men participating in this operation are paving the way for educational and economic opportunities that would be impossible without electricity. They will be heroes in the Guatemalan communities for many generations.”
The Electric Cooperatives of Arkansas comprise 17 electric distribution cooperatives; Arkansas Electric Cooperatives, Inc. (AECI), a Little Rock-based cooperative that provides services to the distribution cooperatives; and Arkansas Electric Cooperative Corp. (AECC), a generation and transmission cooperative. The distribution cooperatives provide electricity to approximately 500,000 homes, farms and businesses in Arkansas and surrounding states.