International Update

  • February Edition: NRECA International Activities


    Help where it’s needed most. As Ebola rates fall and stabilize, and after months-long deliberation and discussions with public health experts, NRECA’s leadership gave our international team the green light to mobilize a small team to Liberia, to begin a delayed project. NRECA International’s project manager Oscar Salinas and project engineer Alma Cota will be based in Monrovia. Strict protocols have been established to ensure safety. Additional team members will be joining once the epidemic continues to diminish, and travel restrictions are lifted from the region. The people in Liberia already face challenges to overcome this public health epidemic, and our team will participate directly in the economic recovery efforts. Funded by the US Agency for International Development, this “Beyond the Grid” project will eventually assist and support the Liberian Rural and Renewable Energy Agency for off-grid project investments that will set the stage to electrify rural Liberia.

    Helping them be the best. After months of research, assessments and analyses, our team recommended to the Northern Electricity Distribution Company (NEDCo) how to become a viable and successful utility that can distribute safe, affordable and reliable electricity to the people in northern Ghana. Dan Waddle, senior vice president for NRECA International traveled to Ghana recently to present the recommended five year investment/business plan to NEDCo leaders.

    Principle #6: Cooperation Among Cooperatives: To date, a total of 10 volunteer linemen from nine member co-ops, have traveled to Coteaux, Haiti to participate in the Haitian Rural Electric Cooperative (HREC) construction activities. Small groups of volunteers have traveled each month since November 2014 and have been working side-by-side with HREC linemen to build the medium voltage distribution system to interconnect three towns – Coteaux, Roche à Bateau, and Port-à-Piment. Thank you to them all!

    Committee of 100
    Last year, the Committee of 100 was created to be the vanguard and help enable NRECA International to provide millions more people around the world a chance at a better life through safe, reliable and affordable electricity. Today, the inaugural membership has reached 88 with minimum individual gifts of $1,000 annually and continues to grow. Interested in joining? Send an email to or call her at 703.907.5645.

    As we know, it all starts with power—this will lead to better education, better healthcare, safer streets and economic development. Join us as we work to improve the quality of life for people around the world. Contact Maria Wimsatt at 703.907.5645 to make a donation today.

  • November Edition: NRECA International Program Activities


    How many people are we helping? More than 42,000. About 36,000 live and work in northern towns where they now have affordable and reliable access to 24/7 electricity—not the case two years ago. Today, a new power plant, a more effective distribution grid and power lines, and an established private utility—all managed by our NRECA International team—provides power to the towns of Caracol, Trou Du Nord, Terrier Rouge, Saint Suzanne and Limonade--more towns are being added soon. In the South, a new electric co-op was born! Earlier this year, our international team helped establish Coopérative Electrique de l'Arrondissement des Coteaux. Soon, groups of co-op volunteers from NRECA member cooperatives will begin traveling to Coteaux to help more than 6,000 residents benefit from 33 miles of new or upgraded power lines, powered by a solar-diesel hybrid power system.


    How many people are we helping? More than 7,000 in the country’s southwest. Work is underway to bring them electricity—many for the first time. Partnering with Tanzania’s Rural Energy Agency (REA), our team is designing two pilot projects that could reduce electrification costs by as much as 50 percent. This means power for more people. And we hope to do more: Dan Waddle, senior vice president for NRECA International and Project Manager Maruf Hasan recently completed an assessment of the potential for rural energy expansion to more off-grid areas. Our team provided recommendations to USAID on how they can work with the REA to make it happen.


    How many people are we helping? Four million. Recently, our team began implementing the Philippines Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) project. Working with the country’s National Electrification Administration, the project—led by Fernando Mercado and James Gardner—will teach seven electric co-ops how to choose, invest in, and use smart grid technology. How will this help? The next time a typhoon wipes out power in remote areas, co-ops will be able to respond efficiently to outages, resulting in more reliable power for the consumers.


    How many people are we helping? More than 500,000. For the last five years, our team has been working with Uganda’s Rural Electrification Agency to develop a new national strategy to expand electric service to rural households and businesses. Recently we completed a detailed report with recommendations on how it should be done. Stay tuned for more news!


    How many people are our donors and volunteers helping? Hundreds of thousands. Here’s a snapshot:

    • Chippewa Valley Electric in Cornell, Wisconsin, donated 165 transformers to the Power for Progress Program in the Philippines.
    • FEM Electric in Ipswich, South Dakota is donating a variety of line materials to the electric municipal in Ixcan, Guatemala.
    • Four volunteers from Coweta-Fayette EMC in Palmetto, Georgia traveled to Costa Rica in September to support their sister co-op, Coopeguanacaste.

    As we know, it all starts with power—this will lead to better education, better healthcare, safer streets and economic development. Join us as we work to improve the quality of life for people around the world. Contact Maria Wimsatt at 703-907-5645 to make a donation today.

  • August Edition: NRECA International Program Activities
    Volunteers and local linemen start their day early in northern Haiti.

    Volunteers and local linemen start their day early in northern Haiti.

    • In Haiti, seven volunteers recently traveled to the northern region of the country to work on line extension projects to connect the community of Trou-du-Nord, and also to train local Haitian linemen. Two teams of 3 linemen served as volunteers: Jay Kroeze (Adams Electric Co-op in Pennsylvania), Kevin Little and Kurtis Moore (Osage Valley Electric Co-op in Missouri) formed the first team while Tony Paterno (Inland Power and Light in Washington), Scott Snyder and Jared Boggs (Northeastern REMC in Indiana) filled out the second roster. Additionally, Lauren Daberkow, a retired mechanic from Dawson PPD in Nebraska, returned to Caracol for a sixth time to service the utility vehicles that have a variety of mechanical problems.
    • As the final portion of the Smart Grid Alliance of the Americas (SGAA) project extension, two volunteers with advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) expertise traveled to Roatan, Honduras. Gail DeGarmo of Buckeye Power and Neal Harrell from Cuivre River provided assistance to the Roatan Electric Company (RECO) personnel with implementing their newly acquire AMI system and the operation and use of the Landis & Gyr “command center” software.
    • Several NRECA International staff members attended the U.S.-Africa Energy Ministerial Conference held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Sponsored by several U.S. government agencies, the meeting provided a progress update on President Obama's Power Africa Initiative. It was well attended by African energy ministers. At the conference, U.S. Energy Secretary Moniz announced "Beyond the Grid", a new sub-initiative within Power Africa that will explore ways to encourage private sector investment in off-grid electric service provision.
    • Minnkota Power Cooperative in Grand Forks, ND donated a bucket truck to the electric municipal utility in San Pedro, Guatemala. San Pedro is one of three partnering municipals in Guatemala to receive technical assistance from NRECA International as it progresses towards becoming an electric cooperative. The bucket truck arrived weeks after an earthquake caused damaged to the electrical distribution system in the area, proving to be an even more beneficial to the municipal of San Pedro.
    • For the last nine months, NRECA has provided inspection services to the Cooperativa Rural de Electrificacion (CRE) in Santa Cruz, Bolivia. The project will continue through the end of 2014. Jointly financed by CRE and the Department of Santa Cruz, this project will extend rural distribution service by constructing more than 1,600 miles of line.
  • May Edition: NRECA International Program Activities
    A local lineman and a volunteer work together in Haiti

    A local lineman and a volunteer work together in Haiti

    • In Ghana, work continues on the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) project. MCC requested NRECA support for a project that will focus on defining how markets in urbanized areas can be effectively interconnected to existing distribution service territories. In the northern region of the country, two workshops on engineering planning and management information systems were offered to staff of the Northern Electric Distribution Company (NEDCo). The workshops were well attended and received very positive feedback from participants.
    • The Pilot Project for Sustainable Electricity Distribution (PPSELD) in Haiti achieved a major milestone. The sole public electric utility in Haiti and the Ministry of Energy signed an agreement that has given PPSELD the authority to interconnect the communities of Limonade, Terrier Rouge, and Trou du Nord. These three communities surround the town of Caracol, where the newly constructed industrial park is located. Upon signature of the agreement, line crews connected power to Trou du Nord and was celebrated by its residents. This was a huge win for the PPSELD team – congrats to all involved!
    • Also in Haiti, six linemen traveled to Caracol to support the Caracol Community Electrification Project (CCEP). The team worked on a line extension to connect the community of Limonade and worked with CCEP linemen on safety training and skills development. The volunteers hailed from all over the U.S. – Jason Slaven and Robert Turner (Mid State EC in Oregon), Karl Brandt (Gascosage in Missouri), Toby Geiger (East Center Energy in Minnesota), Josh Hoffman (Northern Plains in North Dakota), and Jody Bruce (Verendrye in North Dakota). The volunteers from Missouri and North Dakota were even given Congressional recognition on the floor by their respective House representatives for their volunteer service.
    • A crew of 15 linemen from Arkansas traveled to Huehuetenango, Guatemala earlier this year as part of the ongoing Arkansas Razorbacks project. The crew built a distribution system benefitting 54 families in 3 small communities. Two containers of donated materials and equipment were shipped to Guatemala prior to the arrival of the volunteers. A smaller group of Arkansas CEOs and board officers also traveled to the Guatemala project for the inauguration of the small distribution system. Senator Pryor of Arkansas recognized the efforts of these volunteers, as well another group that traveled last year, on the Senate Floor this month.
    • Discussions continue with USAID regarding NRECA remobilization into South Sudan, however the security situation in regions where NRECA International projects are located remains calm. Volunteer Randy Erickson from Kodiak Electric Co-op in Alaska recently traveled to Yei and Maridi with NRECA’s South Sudan Chief of Party. Randy was able to evaluate and address critical problems at the Yei diesel plant and perform routine maintenance on generators at the Maridi plant. Randy did an outstanding job of identifying the problems and training local counterparts.
    • Several months ago when the NRECA International Foundation requested utility trucks that could be donated to the Haiti projects, several co-ops quickly rose to the occasion. Umatilla Electric in Oregon and Rush Shelby Electric Co-op in Indiana have donated bucket trucks to the CCEP project in Caracol and Beartooth Electric Co-op in Montana donated a bucket truck to the newly formed co-op in the South of Haiti, for the Haitian Rural Electrification Cooperative (HREC) project.
    • Thanks to Hickman-Fulton Electric Cooperative in Kentucky, the Puerto Barrios Electric Municipality in Guatemala will have bright nights because of the co-op’s donation of about 400 lights and fixtures.
  • February Edition: NRECA International Activities
    A Snapshot of Recent NRECA International Program Activities

    A Snapshot of Recent NRECA International Program Activities

    • The continued conflict in South Sudan is directly impacting NRECA International Programs, minimizing activities and travel for several staff members who have departed the country until conditions improve. The three community-based utilities started by NRECA and currently supported by the Electrification Sustainability Program have all cut back on hours of operation and use of fuel for maintenance. NRECA International remains optimistic about returning to full levels of operation.
    • Power Africa! - The Ghana Power Sector Feasibility Studies project has begun. Financed by the Millennium Challenge Corporation, this project evaluates the potential investments in Ghana's two distribution utilities – ECG in the south and NEDCo in the north. Another separate project with NEDCo, financed by the US Trade and Development Agency, has been underway since November to put forth management and investment planning recommendations.
    • Pilot project activities under the SGAA project (Smart Grid Alliance for Americas) are nearing completion in Costa Rica and Chile, while a pilot meter installation project gears up in Honduras. Alliance members from several countries are participating in an information exchange workshop this month and will hold a final seminar in May when the project wraps up. The project has allowed our team to share automated metering infrastructure technology lessons with a large group of rural utilities in Central and South America. Zach Rebstock and Skeeter Ballard of United Coop Services in Texas recently volunteered in Paillaco, Chile. They helped install and setup AMI systems and shared operation and maintenance best practices with local teams.
    • The efforts to rebuild in the wake of Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines continue. NRECA presented checks to 11 Filipino electric co-ops to provide Typhoon Haiyan relief. These co-ops have also rallied to help one another by sending more than 360 linemen from 38 co-ops in power restoration and rehabilitation efforts in Leyte, Cebu and Iloilo. NRECA continues to show support for the Philippines National Electrification Administration and their electric cooperative community by providing financial support to Filipino cooperative crews involved in power restoration and recovery efforts. More than $120,000 has been raised to date.
    • Darron Scott, CEO of Kodiak Electric in Alaska, traveled to Caracol, Haiti as a volunteer. He helped assess the newly built power plant, checked that the recently constructed plan met international standards, and also helped develop a reporting system for future performance inquiries.
    • Sauber Manufacturing, Inc. donated a customized trailer to the Empresa Electrica Municipal de Puerto Barrios in Guatemala. Bayfield Electric Coop of Wisconsin donated a digger derrick truck to the newly established co-op in the south of Haiti with the USAID funded Haitian Rural Electrical Cooperative project.
  • January Edition: NRECA International Activities
    International Update
    A snapshot of Recent NRECA International Program Activities
    • In an effort to involve more NRECA employees in International Program, an essay competition was launched earlier this year. NRECA employee Michele Doyle was the first winner and traveled as a volunteer to Tanzania on behalf of the Foundation. Check out her story in this edition of TieLine.
    • Haiti has its first electric cooperative! The Haiti Rural Electric Cooperative (HREC) project established Cooperative Electrique de l’Arrondissement des Coteaux (CEAC). Located in the south of Haiti, this co-op will be powered by a solar-diesel hybrid system in conjunction with an upgraded medium voltage distribution network. The system will provide service to 3 communities within the cooperative’s service territory. To date, more than 250 co-op membership applications have been received.
    • International Programs presented recommendations on how to overcome institutional challenges to help the distribution service provider reach financial sustainability and to substantially expand the distribution grid in the South Sudan capital of Juba. In a report for the South Sudan Electricity Corporation (SSEC) and the Ministry of Electricity, Dams, Irrigation and Water Resources (MEDIWR), the NRECA team recommendations include a comprehensive training program, mentoring for senior staff and incorporating IT into new business systems. This project is being funded by NVE (A Norwegian aid agency), while the African Development Bank intends to finance the first phase of infrastructure development for the distribution system expansion.
    • Another win for the Smart Grid Alliance Project! Matt Hillebrand, a volunteer from Central Lincoln Public Utility (OR), traveled to Costa Rica to inspect the equipment and software installation at Coopelesca and Coopeguanacaste, two Costa Rican cooperatives participating in the Smart Grid Alliance of the Americas. Collectors, routers and meters were inspected; the team found that the systems are working very well.
    • There were October celebrations in Guatemala marking NRECA’s 25th Anniversary in the country. Several staff members were celebrated and honored for their long service, including Hugo Arriaza as one of the original team members, Marisol Najera for 23 years of service and Zully Guzman for 16 years of service. The celebrations coincided with NRECA Board Vice President Mel Coleman’s travel to Guatemala. He represented the Arkansas Razorback Operation, a project to electrify several villages, in partnership with the Foundation.