By: Sherry Williams Kidd, Staff Writer | Twitter: @DinwiddieMonitr
Posted: October 9, 2019 | 1:45 p.m.
DINWIDDIE – Volunteer electric cooperative line workers, including Southside Electric Cooperative’s Scott Diggs, have recently returned from rural Bolivia after bringing a very precious gift – the gift of power to five communities that lacked access to electricity.
The initiative, United We Light: Project Bolivia was sponsored by the Virginia, Maryland, & Delaware Association of Electric Cooperatives, in conjunction with National Rural Electric Cooperative Association International, and support from the National Rural Utilities Cooperative Finance Corporation.
“As an electric cooperative, we are grateful to be able to help deliver the gift of electricity to rural communities at home and abroad,” remarked SEC President & CEO, Jeff Edwards. “The five Bolivian communities these 15 line workers visited now have access to a greater quality of life, with electricity now in their homes. We are proud of Scott and the other line workers for their generosity and hard work, all while sacrificing weeks away from their families.”
The team of 15 volunteers flew out on September 4, departing from Reagan National Airport to Miami. They then boarded another plane to Santa Cruz, the largest city in Bolivia. From there, the volunteers embarked on a third flight, taking them to Cochabamba. This was followed by a six-hour van ride to Challapata, a municipality in the City of Oruro. The line workers were divided into two teams for 12-days of work on 11 miles of power line. Their duties included constructing primary and secondary lines; string, sag, and tie in conductors on the structures; hang transformers and make connections; and provide hands-on training to local utility workers. In all, 52 households were powered.
“In America, electricity touches nearly every aspect of our lives,” added Brad Furr, SEC’s vice president of operations. “We live with it every day. Some residents of developing countries are not so fortunate. The NRECA International project in Bolivia allows us to play a part in bringing electricity to homes for the first time.”
In addition to Diggs, the group included line workers from A&N Electric Cooperative, Tasley, Virginia; BARC Electric Cooperative, Millboro, Virginia; Central Virginia Electric Cooperative, Lovingston, Virginia; Choptank Electric Cooperative, Denton, Maryland; Northern Neck Electric Cooperative, Warsaw, Virginia; Rappahannock Electric Cooperative, Fredericksburg, Virginia; and Shenandoah Valley Electric Cooperative, Rockingham, Virginia. The line workers returned home on September 21. This trip was the first time the VMD Association has sponsored an overseas electrification project with NRECA International, which is an affiliate of the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, and has been providing power to unserved areas in rural Bolivia since 1962.
Scott Diggs, SEC Supervisory Line Technician, recently traveled to rural Bolivia, with the, United We Light- Project Bolivia, initiative. (SEC)
“This was definitely a feel-good trip, and it was amazing,” Scott Diggs, SEC Line Technician Supervisor, reflected. “I’m glad I did it. It was tough work, but the people were so welcoming. We were made to feel like we were a part of the community. The Bolivians were very grateful, because their living conditions were substandard, and they lived off-the-land. They didn’t have much of anything–but they were happy people.”
Southside Electric Cooperative is a not-for-profit, member-owned electric cooperative that serves more than 56,000 homes and businesses in central and southern Virginia. Headquartered in Crewe, SEC has district offices in Altavista, Crewe, Dinwiddie, and Powhatan.
Copyright 2019 by Womack Publishing
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