While NRECA International has had extensive experience in implementing distributed power generation-distribution systems and installing renewable energy systems, creating successful and sustainable community owned utilities also requires extensive community involvement and support.
To accomplish this, our project teams that establish power utilities include community outreach managers who are responsible for increasing awareness within the community regarding:
- The availability of electric service.
- The impact electricity will have on the community, schools, other public facilities, businesses and households.
- How to apply for electric service, and be an efficient energy user.
- The price of electricity, the importance of paying for it, and what they are getting for their money.
- Outdoor and indoor safety on what to do, and not to do around electricity.
- Who manages and operates the power utility.
- Where the electricity comes from (power generation).
Liberia: Going Beyond The Grid
NRECA International staff helped establish three electric co-ops in parts of rural Liberia that have never received reliable and affordable electricity. As is the case with many communities like these, community engagement activities have to be conducted in person to affectively inform and educate community members about the arrival of electricity, and what it means for them.
Community engagement materials developed included pamphlets and posters to educate community members about the electric co-op business model, and the benefits of becoming a member. In addition, posters were also designed and posted around the towns to increase awareness and also establish brand recognition for the new co-op. Because electricity is a new resource, safety education materials were also produced for these communities to encourage safe behavior around electricity.
Haiti: Connecting Communities
The Pilot Project for Sustainable Electricity Distribution (PPSELD) provides electric service to Caracol, the only region in Haiti that has access to electricity access 24/7. Over the years, materials have been developed before, during and after community members receive electric service. Working closely with local staff, messaging for this material include creating, increasing and sustaining awareness on who/what PPSELD is, the benefits of electricity, and the importance of paying for it. Community engagement material continues to be used in community meetings, door-to-door information campaigns, radio announcements and bull-horn public service announcements in towns/communities. Posters are hung in various locations to not just increase awareness regarding the value of electricity, but also establish brand recognition for PPSELD so its workers will be recognized and respected in the community.
Bringing Power to Haiti