Little Rock, Ark. — Oct. 11, 2016 — Thirteen Electric Cooperatives of Arkansas linemen recently returned from a mission in rural Bolivian in which the men ran power lines to three remote villages resulting in electric service to more than 360 residents. The villagers’ 72 homes near Guararamerian located at the Brazilian border had previously been without service.
“The Operation Razorback – Bolivia crew have changed lives in Bolivia,” said Duane Highley, president/CEO of the Electric Cooperatives of Arkansas. “These men volunteered their skills and showed a passion for serving their fellow man. Their efforts will result in an increased quality of life for the villagers and future generations.”
The linemen represented electric cooperatives across Arkansas and worked closely with the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA) International team on the project. The Arkansas crew worked with the Guayaramerin Electric Cooperative, or COSEGUA, on the project that involved substantial construction of distribution lines.
A unique challenge was the Bolivian use of concrete power line structures. With no bucket trucks and the inability to climb the poles, the men utilized ladders to run the conductor and build lines for the eager villagers that had been waiting for power for years.
Electric Cooperatives of Arkansas crews have assisted in establishing electric service to approximately 1,500 residents in rural Bolivia and Guatemala since 2013.
Linemen and their respective cooperatives participating in the project are: Bill Bonds and Doug Evans with Petit Jean Electric of Clinton; Richard Freeland with Ouachita Electric of Camden; Kenneth Byrd and Clayton McMurray of Arkansas Valley Electric of Ozark; Gene Milton with Woodruff Electric of Forrest City; Shannon Strope and Aaron Yearta with Craighead Electric of Jonesboro; Hugh Starkey with First Electric of Jacksonville; William Thompson with North Arkansas Electric of Salem; Jimmy Sharp and Alex Wright with Southwest Arkansas REA of Texarkana; and Kevin Riddle with Arkansas Electric Cooperatives, Inc. of Little Rock.
The Electric Cooperatives of Arkansas comprise 17 electric distribution cooperatives; Arkansas Electric Cooperatives, Inc. (AECI), a Little Rock-based cooperative that provides services to the distribution cooperatives; and Arkansas Electric Cooperative Corp. (AECC), a generation and transmission cooperative. The distribution cooperatives provide electricity to approximately 500,000 homes, farms and businesses in Arkansas and surrounding states.