Project Ohio

Lineworker on pole

New normal

As I write to you in early April, it’s become increasingly difficult to imagine what the next few weeks will bring. I hope that this issue of Ohio Cooperative Living finds you safe and healthy and provides a pleasant diversion to your socially distanced lives.

Project Ohio group

Powering up, powering through

Gathering a group of 16 linemen from across Ohio, leaving the security of home and family, and going to a remote part of Central America could never be considered a routine endeavor.

The day after they arrived in Guatemala, the team decided to make an impromptu stop in the village to check out the landscape of the job — to see the 67 homes and the school and get a look at the conditions they’d encounter.

linemen on a wire

Dedicated

If you’ve read this magazine for long enough, you get the idea that we respect, even admire, the people whose job it is to go out every day and keep our lights on. The lineworkers who represent each of the 24 electric cooperatives in our state are the first responders of the cooperative world. They are a dedicated, self-sacrificing bunch who do not flinch when the call goes out — any time of day, any season of the year.

Lineworker with Guatemalan children

Las luces!

Ohio electric cooperatives have a long history of bringing light to areas where it’s never before been available. In the 1930s, that meant neighbors helping neighbors bring electricity to the farms and homes in those rural parts of the state that for-profit utilities ignored. That spirit has, in more recent times, lit the way for us to carry the tradition beyond our borders. 

Three men hold tight to a rope.

Turning on the lights: Las Tortugas and San Jorge

In a way, the scene was reminiscent of 1930s and ’40s rural America: two out-of-the-way villages getting electricity for the first time. This past March, however, the setting was a remote area of Central America, where a team of 17 linemen from Ohio electric cooperatives traveled to the villages of Las Tortugas and San Jorge, in northern Guatemala, on a humanitarian mission to supply electricity for the first time to the small villages.

A group of workers sit in the back of a pickup truck.

Back to Guatemala

Electric cooperatives were founded in the spirit of neighbor helping neighbor. Co-ops brought light to rural America, and that partnership lit the way for us to carry the tradition beyond our borders. In 2016, linemen from across Ohio’s electric cooperative network mirrored that effort for our international neighbors in Guatemala. We brought power to the village of La Soledad, changing lives, providing hope for the future — and providing perspective on the impact we can have on underserved people still today.

A family in Guatemala poses together for a picture.

Looking ahead to 2018

I love this time of year. January, for me, is a time of optimism, when I see all the possibilities ahead of us, which both invite us into the unknown and challenge us to improve.

At the same time, the new year affords us the opportunity to look back at the year that was. Before going into our 2018 priorities, let’s celebrate 2017 — which, looking back, turned out to be a historic year for Ohio electric cooperatives. It was a year in which we:

Villagers of La Soledad smile for a group photo.

Buckeyes powering the world

Late this month, 17 volunteers from Ohio’s electric cooperatives will fly to Guatemala, take a two-hour ride up a very steep mountainside and spend 14 days helping to electrify the remote village of La Soledad. The project, undertaken through the auspices of the international program of the National Rural Electric Cooperatives Association (NRECA), has had monetary and material support from all 24 of Ohio’s electric cooperatives and from employees and other friends of the statewide network of electric cooperatives.