BRE Line Techs Help Bring Village Out of Darkness - Carolina Country
July 2019

Blue Ridge volunteers Jerry Gregg and Eddie Stephens in Laphia, Bolivia. Photo courtesy of
Studio 1441.

Blue Ridge Energy’s history and background of helping others knows no bounds — or borders.

The two-week trip brought Eddie and Jerry to the remote mountain village of Laphia, Bolivia. Laphia, a community of mostly farmers, had never been connected to the electric grid. Candles and kerosene lights were the only source of lighting after sunset.

Recently, line technicians Eddie Stephens (Watauga) and Jerry Gregg (Caldwell) returned from a trip to Bolivia as part of NRECA International and its mission to provide electricity to world regions without it.

Nestled at nearly 11,000 feet above sea level, line technicians faced daunting tasks, from steep terrain to primitive working conditions. They endured physical challenges due to the lack of oxygen found at these high elevations.

In roughly two weeks, Eddie’s crew of 13 volunteers from sister cooperatives around North Carolina managed to construct five miles of line that connected 68 buildings and power to 120 villagers.

At the end of their work, the community gathered together in the local school building, and the lights were turned on for the first time. Electricity had arrived for a rural community that felt overlooked for decades.

Keep an eye out for more pictures and details about Eddie and Jerry’s work in Bolivia in the August issue of Membership Matters!

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