MTE Linemen Return from Guatemala Volunteer Trip

A team of 11 linemen from Middle Tennessee Electric (MTE) returned at the end of May from a nearly three-week volunteer trip to Jalapa, Guatemala, where they utilized their skills and expertise to establish electricity in a rural part of the country.

MTE Linemen Return from Guatemala Volunteer Trip
MTE linemen with crew members from Alabama electric cooperatives and EEMJ in Jalapa, Guatemala.

MTE’s linemen accompanied crews from three Alabama electric cooperatives in partnership with National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA) International, an organization that has worked to electrify unserved areas worldwide for over 50 years. They were joined by the local electric municipality, Empresa Eléctrica Municipal de Jalapa (EEMJ), to complete the first phase of the El Cedral Community Electrification Project.

“This was an incredible opportunity, adventure and experience. Working in Guatemala presented a new level of challenges,” said Brad Nattress, an MTE working service foreman who went on the trip. “I got to work with a great group of guys from MTE and gained new friends from the Alabama crews. We all pulled together, and it was worth it.”

The crews worked to build nearly five miles of overhead line in a community that previously had no electrical infrastructure. This effort was difficult due to the mountainous terrain and a lack of equipment, requiring significant manual labor to dig and hoist poles. This work ultimately resulted in power for 17 homes and a church.

“I am incredibly proud of my teammates who volunteered to spend time away from their loved ones to help establish a basic human need for these families,” said MTE President/CEO Chris Jones. “I know it was challenging, tiring work, but it will truly be life-changing for this community.”

As an electric cooperative, MTE strives to embody the Seven Cooperative Principles. This trip supported principles six, Cooperation Among Cooperatives, and seven, Concern for Community.

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