Alabama Co-ops Assist Puerto Barrios

On Sat. July 13, Central Alabama Electric Cooperative (CAEC), Covington Electric Cooperative (CEC) and the Alabama Rural Electric Association (AREA) sent crews to Puerto Barrios, Guatemala, for a two-week assignment that involved building a seven-mile single phase line to the small village of Tamarindal (outside of Puerto Barrios) and providing a community with central station electricity for the first time.

CAEC’s crew included Journeyman Linemen Lamar Daugherty and son Reed, Kevin Powell, Clay Walker and Line Inspector, Michael Longcrier, and CEC’s line crew who consisted of Groundman Kevin Anderson, and Journeyman Linemen Ross Parker, Josh Till and Josh Winburn, and also Manager of Safety & Loss Control for AREA, Michael Kelley.

Prior to the crews’ arrival, the linemen from Puerto Barrios had set approximately 55 power line poles up the mountainside. With the help of numerous villagers who cut trees to create the right-of-way and who dug holes for anchor lines using hand tools, wire was strung—some spans as long as 2,000 feet—and the project was accomplished in an eight-day period.

“The extreme terrain made the work challenging, especially the steep hills and deep ravines we had to cross with our gear,” said Daugherty. “The work itself, though, went very well. The crew from Covington was easy to work with; in fact, we worked as though we had been together for a long time.”

CAEC, CEC and AREA are participants in the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA) International Program which recruits U.S. cooperative employees to volunteer for up to two weeks at a time to help build and expand electric distribution systems in rural areas of Third World countries. The NRECA International Foundation covers all costs relating to the trip, including air fare, lodging, meals, any vaccinations recommended by a travel clinic and not covered by insurance and all other costs directly related to the trip.

For more than 45 years, the NRECA International Program has provided people in developing countries with access to safe, reliable and affordable electricity, resulting in increased agricultural productivity, millions of new jobs in micro and small enterprises, higher incomes and improved quality of life for people in rural communities around the world.