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SCI Lineman Helps Electrify Zapotillo, Guatemala

Jesse Fisher

South Central Indiana Rural Electric Membership Corporation (SCI REMC) Journeyman Lineman Jesse Fisher joined a crew of 15 other Indiana electric cooperative lineworkers on a trip to a developing area of Guatemala last month as part of an international initiative to bring electricity to the region.

“Project Indiana: Empowering Global Communities for a Better Tomorrow” electrified a part of the Central American country where none was available. The crew spent the second half of March electrifying the village of El Zapotillo in Huehuetenango. The team electrified 60 homes, a school, a church, and a clinic with 4 miles of primary line, 27 miles of secondary line, 36 anchors and 6 transformers—all by hand and without the aid of modern conveniences, such as bucket trucks.

no bucket trucks here“It was a life changing experience for me and the people in the village of El Zapotillo,” said Fisher, who joined SCI REMC in 2004 as an Apprentice Lineman and became a Journeyman Lineman in 2005. “It really makes you re-examine how you see things in your own life, and how we take for granted things like electricity, that we use every day.” Fisher is a graduate of Martinsville High School and Indiana University. He also served in the U.S. Army for four years where he was a Para Trooper and trained as a Medic and Diesel Mechanic.

linemen sleeping quarters

“One of the things that really makes Project Indiana special for our co-op, is that we are spreading the cooperative spirit that we were founded on 75 years ago,” said Greg McKelfresh, President and CEO of SCI REMC. “Electric cooperatives were created by rural people who wanted electricity, but were refused service because it would not generate profits for investors.  Our linemen have in turn, traveled to Guatemala and inspired those people to come together and do the same. We are grateful to have been a part of this new cooperative power.”

This was the Indiana electric cooperatives’ third trip to Guatemala. In August 2012, 28 Hoosier lineworkers from 17 of Indiana’s electric cooperatives, spent four weeks working across the mountainous terrain to construct more than 20 miles of power lines and bring electricity to three villages. In April 2015, 14 lineworkers battled extreme heat and the rugged land to string 11 miles of wire to connect 76 poles across 2,500 feet of mountains.

Fisher is the fourth linemen from SCI REMC to travel to Guatemala for a Project Indiana electrification trip.

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