NRECA International has been working in Guatemala for more than 27 years providing ongoing support to develop a sustainable, reliable and affordable supply of electricity to many rural communities. NRECA International facilitates and manages active volunteer participation from various U.S. electric co-ops, where volunteers are integrated into the NRECA International team when they travel to remote parts of the country. In addition to playing an integral role to help build, upgrade and extend power lines, these electric co-ops have invested more than $1 million of funds for electrification projects in recent years to provide assistance to remote community energy systems.
A New Way Forward
In the last several years, the focus has been placed on helping two municipalities—Ixcan and San Pedro—strengthen business practices and technical capacity of their utility operations. The goal is to help create a sustainable utility so they can provide their communities reliable electric service at reasonable prices.
In Guatemala, municipal electric utilities are created by municipal authorities to meet community energy/electricity needs. These municipal utilities have grown and have a significant presence in the electricity market in Guatemala. An essential step towards improving performance at these utilities is the need to disentangle political influence from the municipal government and their impact on these utilities.
To ensure that the electric municipal utilities of Ixcan and San Pedro can improve their performance and meet their communities’ energy needs, NRECA International team members are focused on:
- Strengthening administrative structures and supporting professional development in each participating municipal utility.
- Evaluating distribution system improvements and designing improvement programs.
- Conducting a customer census to update existing customer information.
Technical Assistance Plan for Ixcan and San Pedro Electric Municipal Utilities
Both municipalities have begun the process to establish independent electric utilities, including electing boards of directors and selecting general managers that will govern and manage the utilities. NRECA International will provide training for developing necessary skills, improving transparency of governance, and improving utility financial and technical performance. Experienced U.S electric co-op staff will provide training to these utilities’ linemen, to reduce the potential risks associated with their work. Linemen also will be enrolled in a distance learning program to improve construction and maintenance skills, as well as learn improved safety practices and procedures.
Creating Electric Cooperatives
NRECA International also is supporting converting two isolated utilities in Huehuetenango and Alta Verapaz to organize themselves as electric cooperatives to better address community electricity needs and improve economic production in agricultural and other enterprises.