MECA Program Takes Electrification To Bolivian Village
According to Montana Electric Cooperatives’ Association Chief Operating Officer Lea Potoczny, the group’s latest international program project, Big Sky to Bolivia, is currently in full swing. Linemen from participating electric cooperatives, including NorVal, McCone Electric Cooperative and Sheridan Electric, traveled to Villa Cotoca, Bolvia, recently to help install an electrification project. Member linemen installed 35 poles near the village on March 2. The team plans to install approximately 94 poles.
At press time, the project was ongoing. Said Potoczny, MECA had groups embark from three locations, Billings, Great Falls and Missoula, and they all met up in Denver, CO. They then flew to Houston, TX, and boarded a flight to Panama City, FL, before continuing on to La Paz, Bolivia. Potoczny said the project has been in development for approximately seven months.
The construction team consists of Kyle Kearns, Team Leader, and Randy English from Ravalli Electric Cooperative; Lance Anderson, McCone Electric Cooperative; Kirk Capdeville, NorVal; Challis Crismore and Dalane Daken, Flathead Electric Cooperative; Josh Fatouros, Park Electric Cooperative; Jared Haworth and Jordan Hould, Yellowstone Valley Electric Cooperative; Seth Hill, Missoula Electric Cooperative; Larry Hilliard, Hill County Electric Cooperative; and Louie Hould, Fergus Electric Cooperative.
Additional team members traveling with the group include Dawson McCully of Lincoln Electric Cooperative, Cody Odom of NorVal and Shawn Sansaver from Sheridan Electric Cooperative. MECA staff confirmed that the linemen are expected home by March 13.
The total estimated cost for the trip is $188,805. NorVal trustee Chris Christensen and MECA CEO Gary Wiens received checks totaling $95,000 March 2 from National Rural Utilities Cooperative Finance Corporation CEO Sheldon C. Petersen. Fundraising efforts are ongoing.