Cooperatives are, by nature, very involved in their communities. This November, a ten-person crew made up of representatives from Cherryland, Great Lakes, HomeWorks Tri-County (HomeWorks), the Michigan Electric Cooperative Association (MECA), and Wolverine are headed to Guatemala to actually electrify an entire village.

This Michigan cooperative-led project, known as Partners for Power; Bringing Electricity to Guatemala, is being hosted by National Rural Electric Cooperative Association’s International Program (NRECA International). Since 1962, NRECA International has provided 110 million people in more than 42 developing countries with access to safe, reliable, and affordable electricity. They have pioneered low cost rural electrification in countries by designing distribution grids, constructing lines, and applying a set of standards that meet very specific community needs.

Mark Kappler, General Manager & CEO of HomeWorks, recommended that our Michigan cooperatives put a project team together. Through several conversations with other cooperative managers, Mark determined that there was enough interest to support a Michigan-sourced project. “This type of opportunity resonates with our foundational mission”, stated Mark. “Employees going on the trip will experience first-hand this life-changing event, and it’s a great story to tell our members, our communities, our legislators, and our regulators.”

The crew will be headed to Buena Vista, Guatemala this November to set 42 poles and construct four miles of line, which will connect to the existing grid. The project should take almost three weeks, and approximately 54 homes (500 people) will benefit from the project.

In June, a small crew, including Wolverine’s Matt Monroe, went to scout the location. Upon arrival, the villagers continually expressed their gratefulness, volunteered to help, and even gave up their beds for the crew to sleep on. “The scouting trip allowed for us to have a better grasp of the November project and what will be required”, said Matt. “The impact of this project will change the villagers’ lives forever! They are so eager to get started that they have already set eight poles themselves the old fashioned way.”

The Michigan construction crew includes:
Cherryland: Tom Ulatowski
Great Lakes: Tony Reichie, William LaTourneau, and Adam Brewbaker
HomeWorks: Brad Parkhouse, and Rick Warchuck
MECA: Dan King
Wolverine: Matt Monroe, Trevor Stratton, and Bill Bremer