Guatemala now has its first two electric cooperatives.
NRECA President Mel Coleman led an association delegation that participated in a Nov. 30 ceremony where Guatemalan Vice President Jafeth Cabrera conferred the legal registration of establishing the Hoja Blanquense and COOPEFFA rural electric co-ops.
The two have operated for several years as village energy associations, providing electric service to community members on an informal basis.
NRECA International has provided technical assistance and facilitated several U.S cooperative-financed projects that have extended service to outlying communities. All the while, NRECA International has encouraged the energy associations to become legally registered electric cooperatives.
“This is just the start of a great NRECA International partnership,” said Coleman, who is also CEO of North Arkansas Electric Cooperative. “We welcome both into the co-op community and look forward to providing further assistance to ensure the success of these co-ops and the members they serve.”
Dan Waddle, NRECA International senior vice president, said many co-ops have been working with their Guatemalan counterparts and they stand ready to do more.
“Arkansas, Indiana, Minnesota and Illinois cooperatives have provided significant training and technical assistance to them over the years, and more recently have made significant donations of materials and volunteer labor to expand electric service to outlying villages and housing clusters,” said Waddle.
“NRECA International is in the process of designing a thorough training program for the two institutions,” Waddle added.
NRECA International partnered with CONFECOOP, a confederation of cooperatives in Guatemala, to assist the two village energy associations to legally register themselves as electric cooperatives.
“It is a big challenge, but the cooperatives in the U.S. want to help us to resolve the problems in rural areas,” said Rodolfo Orozco, executive director of CONFECOOP.
Michael W. Kahn is a staff writer at NRECA.