United Power Lineman to Help Power Guatemala

United Power Journeyman Lineman, Kelly Snow, is among seven volunteer linemen selected by the Colorado Rural Electric Association to support a program to help electrify remote communities in northwestern Guatemala this fall.

The Colorado crew will join eight linemen from co-ops in Oklahoma on a joint project coordinated through the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association’s philanthropic NRECA International Foundation.

“We’re very excited about this inaugural CREA-sponsored project in Guatemala,” said CREA Executive Director Kent Singer. “Our group includes outstanding co-op linemen, who will volunteer their time and expertise to bring much needed electricity to people and communities who have never experienced it before.”

The volunteers will build power lines in the village of Pie del Cerro and, potentially, in neighboring Tierra Blanca Salinas. Both communities are located far from larger population areas near a rain forest in the Ixcan region, close to the Mexican border. Collectively, the communities have about 100 households, five churches, two elementary schools and two health centers — all without access to reliable and affordable electricity. The local residents live in small one or two room homes without running water, refrigeration or the use of electronic appliances for household chores or business services. Farming is the local industry; they produce corn, beans cardamom seeds, cocoa and vegetables.

A local utility, Empresa Municipal Rural de Electricidad (EMRE), based in Playa Grande, Ixcan, will maintain the power lines once they are built. The project will consist of 130 poles and two transformers on 4.34 miles of primary line and 3.86 miles of secondary line. Most of the terrain will be flat, but about 1 mile of line will be built through dense rain forest growth. Each home will receive at least two light bulbs and two electrical outlets.

“We’re proud to have Kelly representing United Power on this very worthy project,” said Bryant Robbins, Chief Operations Officer. “Electrifying rural communities is the foundation that electric cooperatives were formed, and it’s part of our ongoing commitment to communities around the world.”

A selection committee consisting of CREA staff members and two board members from CREA’s Colorado Electric Educational Institute interviewed applicants and selected six co-op linemen and two alternates for the trip. The seventh spot will be filled by CREA Director of Safety and Loss Control Dale Kishbaugh.

“Thanks to all of the linemen who were interested in participating in this trip,” Singer said. “It is great to see how many of our co-op family were willing to leave their homes for an extended period for such a grueling trip to help others in another country. This project will bring economic possibilities to these villages, as well as better access to education and enhanced safety and lifestyles.”

Volunteers selected for the project include: Christian Baker, Holy Cross Energy, Glenwood Springs,Springs; Kris Barbee, Southeast Colorado Power Association, La Junta; Ben Ludington, Poudre Valley Rural Electric Association, Fort Collins; Kelly Snow, United Power, Brighton; Chet Stickler, Holy Cross, Glenwood Springs; and Nate Towne, Mountain Parks Electric, Granby.

Alternates are Chris Stanworth, White River Electric; and Baker McKonly, La Plata Electric Association, Durango.

CREA is the statewide trade association for Colorado’s 22 electric cooperatives and Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association.

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