NPEC lineman to travel to Haiti for projectOne Northern Plains Electric lineman will travel to Haiti this year as part of the National Rural Electric Association International’s electrification project.
One Northern Plains Electric lineman will travel to Haiti this year as part of the National Rural Electric Association International’s electrification project.
Josh Hoffman, 28, is a lineman with the NPEC Carrington East crew. Previously, he worked for Dakota Valley Electric in Wahpeton.
Since 1985, NRECA International Foundation has sent volunteers from U.S. electric cooperatives to serve overseas, according to NRECA International. Hoffman’s travels will take him to Caracol, Haiti, in October. Caracol is located on the northern coast of Haiti near the border of the Dominican Republic.
Out of dozens who apply for the coveted volunteer trip, only 75 electric cooperative employees are afforded the opportunity. Hoffman, who grew up in Bottineau, has applied in each of the last seven years. He is the second North Dakotan to travel for the program.
“I just thought it’d be a neat experience to go help,” Hoffman said, adding that he has traveled to help restore power in other states after ice storms, but never has he traveled internationally. And never has he flown on a plane.
Installing power in developing countries opens many educational, economic and health-related opportunities. With electricity, people don’t have to spend their day gathering food or powering an expensive generator. Only about 30 percent of Haiti’s population has access to electricity, and most for only a few hours a day.
The electrification project in Haiti is part of a larger initiative by the U.S. Agency for International Development. Hoffman and the other volunteers will work with local linemen, providing hands-on training as well as constructing lines for an industrial park in Caracol—which will potentially employ up to 30,000 people. The volunteers will also help provide power to a residential area for some of the workers.
While in Haiti, volunteers will work six eight-hour days in each of the three weeks of the trip. They will have access to a truck, but not all the modern tools and equipment that they have here at home. Hoffman said he plans to dig ditches and set poles by hand.
“It’s kind of like bringing line work back to what it was first like here in the United States,” he said.