The Oklahoma Association of Electric Cooperatives (OAEC) is pleased to announce the completion of a volunteer electrification project that took place in August 2016 in the Amazonian area of Bolivia. This project, named “Energy Trails,” is a joint partnership between OAEC and the Association of Missouri Electric Cooperatives. Bringing electric service for the first time to two remote villages, the electrification project was possible through the coordination of NRECA International Foundation, the philanthropic arm of the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association.
On August 1, 2016 eight co-op volunteers left Oklahoma City and headed to Riberalta, Bolivia –their final destination. Volunteers worked for the next 15 days alongside Missouri co-op linemen and local linemen from Cooperativa Electrica Riberalta. The project was comprised of 280 poles in an area spanning 10 miles and brought electric service to the villages of Dos de Junio and El Torito in the outskirts of the city of Riberalta. As a result, 361 families now enjoy electricity for the first time.
“Rural electric cooperatives are known for bringing power to areas that would not otherwise enjoy electricity,” Chris Meyers, OAEC general manager, said. “It’s rewarding to know we made a difference in the lives of families who are striving for a better quality of life.”
The following volunteers served on the project: Jeremy Baker (Cookson Hills Electric Cooperative, Stigler-Okla.), Stacy Bourne (East Central Oklahoma Electric Cooperative, Okmulgee-Okla.), Jason Brown (Rural Electric Cooperative, Lindsay-Okla.), Larry Cisneros (Northeast Oklahoma Electric Cooperative, Vinita-Okla.), Derec Janaway (Oklahoma Electric Cooperative, Norman-Okla.), Damon Lester (Indian Electric Cooperative, Cleveland-Okla.), Heath Martin (Northfork Electric Cooperative, Sayre-Okla.) and team leader Wade Hurst (Oklahoma Association of Electric Cooperatives, Oklahoma City-Okla.).
The OAEC International Committee, comprised of trustees from the statewide association board, received an overwhelming response from volunteer linemen interested on this project. The Committee is considering future international electrification projects.