For the first time since 2019, Project Indiana from Indiana Electric Cooperatives (IEC) brought electrification to the people of Guatemala.


Eight linemen from Hoosier Energy member cooperatives were among the crew that traveled to Pena Roja, a village of 26 families in the mountains of western Guatemala along the Mexican border from April 27-May 13.


This year’s crew of 14 linemen included Kevin Bay of JCREMC, Cody Campbell of South Central Indiana REMC, Nathan Clayton of Clark County REMC, Collin Crabtree of Decatur County REMC, Tom Gettinger of Henry County REMC, Clint Heeke of Southern Indiana Power, Jason Morrison of Jackson County REMC and Michael Newlin of Orange County REMC.


All of them were enthusiastic before flying out of Indianapolis to begin the journey to Central America. It was the start of a 17-hour journey that included two flights and an hours-long drive.


Members of the Project Indiana team, including eight linemen from Hoosier Energy member cooperatives, pose at the Indianapolis airport before departing for Guatemala. (IEC photo)

“This trip is a once in a lifetime opportunity – we will be helping another community to improve their quality of life,” Campbell told IEC. “I am excited to see a part of the world I’ve never seen before, work with different people – see how they work and learn from them.”


Added Clayton: “I’m most excited about seeing the looks on people’s faces when they receive electricity in their own homes for the first time.”


During the two-week work trip, the 14 linemen, four project managers and support staff built 3.75 miles of power lines and wired 30 homes. The team also completed maintenance on an existing three-pole span near the Guatemalan-Mexican border.


It lived up to the billing for the participants.


Decatur County REMC’s Collin Crabtree poses for a photo with some of the children of Pena Roja, Guatemala. (IEC photo)

“It was a great experience building power into the village with a great group of guys,” Morrison, who also participated in 2019, posted on Facebook. “… So glad for the opportunity to help change so many lives.”


Crabtree agreed.


“It’s amazing to see how they live, and where they live is incredible,” he texted his colleagues back home. “Just what they don’t have is very eye-opening. It’s a great experience!”


Project Indiana launched in August of 2012 and returned to Guatemala in 2015, 2017 and 2019 before the Covid-19 pandemic put a hold on things. The next project is slated to take place in early 2025.


The trip ended with a celebration that saw the schoolchildren from the neighboring village of Las Flores, electrified by Alabama’s electric cooperatives in 2013, join the party. It proved that the Project Indiana team had lived up to its goal.


“It’s a great opportunity to help improve their quality of living and give the children a better future,” Bay said.