Co-ops Committed to Global Electrification
NRECA International is bringing power to developing nations
A startling one billion people — or 13 percent of the world’s population — still live without electricity, according to the International Energy Agency. But with true cooperative spirit and a concern for communities around the world, electric cooperatives in North Carolina and across the country are supporting efforts to bring power to rural communities abroad through NRECA International.
An offshoot of the cooperatives’ national trade organization, NRECA International (nrecainternational.coop) works to develop and implement electrification programs to bring new opportunity to developing nations. Over the last 55 years, the organization has brought electricity access to more than 126 million people in 43 countries.
To accomplish this, hundreds of co-op leaders have traveled thousands of miles to help newly established power utilities across the globe, and lineworkers have banded together to build power lines to bring first-time power to people in remote communities. In the last 10 years, more than 700 volunteers from almost 200 co-ops traveled to 11 countries to support NRECA International’s mission: To encourage economic growth and improve lives by expanding access to electric service.
The NRECA International team works with governments and funding agencies like the U.S. Agency for International Development to develop national electrification plans, collect and analyze data to determine the most cost-effective way to provide power to hard-to-reach populations, and also to design and construct distribution systems.
The first large group of volunteer lineworkers organized by NRECA International traveled in 2004 to the Dominican Republic to assist in storm power restoration efforts. Since then, numerous co-op employees have volunteered to assist in projects around the world. Today, NRECA International’s popular volunteer program is rapidly growing. In addition to supporting ongoing projects in sub-Saharan Africa and Southeast Asia, NRECA International identifies communities in Latin America that can benefit from electrification projects carried forth by America’s electric co-ops.
Cooperative leaders recognize the value of playing a role in the next frontier of electrification — outside our borders.
“The U.S. electric co-op movement lifted rural American communities by providing life-changing opportunities for our grandfathers, and today we are reaping the benefits,” said Nelle Hotchkiss, senior vice president of Association Services for North Carolina’s Electric Cooperatives. “It is the co-op way to share our wealth of knowledge and skills to help the millions of people around the world who still live without access to electricity. Co-op volunteer lineworkers, who travel far to help, return to their families with a better understanding of the world around us, a greater appreciation for the co-op community and a clearer picture of their value to the community here at home.”