ROCKINGHAM – As part of “United We Light: Project Bolivia” three Shenandoah Valley Electric Cooperative (SVEC) linemen will travel abroad in early September to help electrify a South American region for the first time.
Mike Alexander, Roger Pace and JT Jacobs are leaving Sept. 4 for the Oruro region in western Bolivia. Alexander is a lead lineman in SVEC’s Winchester District; Roger Pace is a lineman first class in the Shenandoah District; and Jacobs is a lineman second class in the Augusta District.
“This is a way to help out people who have never had power before,” Jacobs said. “You kind of get to be a frontrunner for people seeing electricity for the first time. It’s a pretty awesome feeling that you’re helping with the creation of that.”
The Bolivia project represents the first overseas electrification effort of the Virginia, Maryland & Delaware Association of Electric Cooperatives. It’s in coordination with the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association’s international division, which arranges for volunteer teams of co-ops to bring power to unserved parts of the world. Fifteen lineworkers from eight co-ops in Virginia and Maryland are participating.
“Building the power lines and knowing that we are getting power to individuals who have never had electricity, that’s really going to make this a great experience,” Alexander said.
Local crews from Bolivia will help the visiting lineworkers. A light up ceremony is scheduled for Sept. 19.
“To see the look on the people’s faces when they get electricity for the very first time is what I’m looking forward to most,” Pace said. “I am excited about the trip, and I would ask that the people at our companies and communities keep us as a group in their thoughts and prayers for our safety and safe return.”
To learn more about the trip and view progress reports while the team is in Bolivia, please follow the “United We Light: Project Bolivia” Facebook group.
Chartered in 1936, SVEC serves approximately 98,000 meters in the counties of Augusta, Clarke, Frederick, Highland, Page, Rockingham, Shenandoah, and Warren and the city of Winchester in Virginia. Shenandoah Valley Electric Cooperative was the first electric cooperative chartered in Virginia. This institution is an equal opportunity provider and employer. SVEC supports our armed services and veterans in employment opportunities.