More than 1.6 billion people in the world remain without electricity. We know that clean water, improved healthcare, better education, safer streets and economic growth all start with power. That’s why Michigan’s electric cooperatives are partnering with the NRECA International Foundation to bring safe, reliable and affordable electricity to remote villages in Guatemala.

“Michigan’s work in Guatemala will bring electricity to about 700 people in 130 households,” says HomeWorks Tri-County Electric General Manager Mark Kappler. “It’ll involve building 6.5 km of primary and 8.7 km of secondary line in harsh, jungle terrain to connect these communities to an existing grid.”

Four co-op employees are currently in Guatemala reviewing the project site and assessing what materials will be needed. The construction phase will involve a total of 10 lineworkers from Cherryland, HomeWorks, Great Lakes, Wolverine and MECA, and take about 17 days on-site this fall to complete. Michigan lineworkers will labor alongside Guatemalan locals who will be responsible for maintaining the lines after the team departs.

“We’re getting involved in the International program because it resonates with the co-ops’ foundational mission,” Kappler explained. “It’s a life-changing opportunity for the employees involved, and it’s a great story to tell our members, communities, legislators and regulators.”

The International Foundation began in 1962 as an agreement between NRECA and the U.S. Agency for International Development. Today, it has field offices in Bangladesh, Bolivia, Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Haiti, Philippines, South Sudan and Uganda.

The Michigan project in Guatemala is supported solely through voluntary donations of time, skills, money and materials. Donations are tax deductible and can be made online.