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Month: March 2019

Installation and education

The guys worked a full day Saturday, heading out as soon as they finished 6:30 breakfast and worked until 6 to complete the installation of all primary, neutral and triplex wires. They still need to complete the service drop to the meter boxes and then to the homes of each of the village residents that are a part of this project, but are working ahead of schedule.

Project Indiana Board Chair and Tipmont REMC CEO Ron Holcomb presented a “co-op utility sustainability 101” class to six directors from 13 communities in the local cooperative association, in addition to others from the area who were interested in learning about cooperatives. Plans are also being discussed for additional in-depth classes.

Saturday was sunny with temperatures in the mid- to high 80s with high humidity.

They’re driven to work

Task-oriented by nature, lineworkers are driven to accomplish what they have before them – no matter how big the job seems. The Project Indiana line team is no different.

Friday they strung another 10 spans of secondary triplex, seven spans of primary line and neural, connected multiple houses and wired many more homes. And, to no one’s surprise, there’s buzz about possibly finishing this monumental task ahead of schedule.

Project Indiana Board Chair and Tipmont REMC CEO Ron Holcomb will present to the local electric cooperative’s board of directors Saturday morning.

Steady progress Thursday

Joe Banfield, Indiana Electric Cooperatives, and his “assistants” ready line for installation.

The project team made steady progress again Thursday. A total of 36 homes are now wired and secondary line has been pulled for most of the homes. Another pole is being set Friday.

Thursday’s weather started off in the 70s and was breezy and partly cloudy, then after another light rain it stayed overcast and got pretty humid.

Brent Buckles, Northeastern REMC, shared some gifts with the local school children. Brent’s wife is a teacher at a Fort Wayne Montessori school and her students sent some gifts for the San Jacinto school children. Brent took a few photos of the students to share with the American students, and then showed the photos to the San Jacinto students. Many residents of the village have never seen themselves in photographs.

“We kicked…”

Village residents and Project Indiana team members work together to roll a new spool of secondary line into place.

One of the project team members summed up Wednesday’s work with a simple, “we kicked a##!”

The project team is obviously happy with the progress they’ve made and they’re eager to get back at it each day. Wednesday they wired the inside of 15 more homes, for a total of 21.

Wednesday they also pulled 34 spans of secondary line, which will run from the transformers to the homes. Because the load is small, only five transformers are necessary to power 92 homes. The heavier, coated service lines will run below the primary lines along the main road running through San Jacinto.

Two spans of secondary line had to be pulled in to the steep hills above the village. At the top, both spans took right angle turns to the left. One crossed a gully, the other a shallow ravine planted with corn that included some outcrops of rocks.

The temperatures Wednesday were in the low 80s, but the humidity was very high. It varied from overcast, light rain, to partly cloudy.

Thursday morning, they were planning to make the 30-minute drive from the hotel to the village about 7 a.m. The village residents were setting one more pole the project team felt was needed between the very first pole off the power supply and the second.

Line goes up

Today, the Project Indiana team began pulling and putting up line. Starting from the pole at the Church in the center of the San Jacinto project, two crews worked in opposite directions, pulling six spans each, 13 total, and installing primary line.

They also installed three transformers with ropes and pulleys by tying the end to the front of a pickup truck and then backing it up to hoist the transformer.

The team completed the inside wiring on six homes.

It was partly cloudy and in the 80s with high humidity and brief rain showers peppering the day.

This area is on Mountain Time, or two hours behind most of Indiana. This leaves the project team anxious to get to the project site while the sun is up but the temperatures are lower. The plan for Wednesday is to start around 6:30 a.m.

The work begins

The project team attended a town hall meeting with the village residents so they could officially meet one another and everyone could learn a little more about the work planned for the next couple of weeks.

After a good night’s rest at Hacienda Tijax, the Project Indiana team loaded back up for the rest of the trip up the mountain. After a couple-hour drive, they arrived at their home for the next two weeks: Hotel Villa Santa Elena.

And, then the team headed to a stop near the project site to visit a small hydroelectric generating facility on a stream that’s not far above the area’s natural attraction: a wide picturesque waterfall.

After lunch, they finished the trip to San Jacinto. The first order of business was to check through the supplies stored in a small warehouse near the village Church and to organize the tools and hardware.

The project team attended a town hall meeting with the village residents so they could officially meet one another and everyone could learn a little more about the work planned for the next couple of weeks.

In addition bringing electricity to the village, the project team will be wiring the inside of homes. In exchange for this, those who receive inside wiring have committed to purchase a small wood stove with a chimney to adequately vent the smoke outside of the home. This small step will greatly improve the overall health and eyesight of the village residents.

Following the meeting, the Project Indiana team inspected the poles that were set before their arrival and set the pole anchors the villagers had dug.

Tuesday, March 26, marks the first full day on the project site and line stringing will begin.

A cellular phone signal is not available at the project site. A signal is available at the hotel in the evenings, but an internet connection is not.

The travel day

The first day was a full one. The Project Indiana crew gathered at the Indianapolis International Airport at 4:30 a.m. for its 6 a.m. flight to Atlanta, followed by a flight to Guatemala City.

After eating lunch, the project team and their luggage was loaded onto three pickup trucks, an SUV and a van for the trek part of the way up the mountain. They stopped for the night at Hacienda Tijax in Rio Dulce. The small cabins that make up this hotel complex are connected by boardwalks and suspension bridges. After eating dinner, some of the project team swam in the lakeside pool.

The project team will travel the remainder of the way up the mountain on Monday.

San Jacinto pole setting

Utility poles weigh somewhere around 700 lbs. each. Our electric lineworkers generally use heavy equipment to dig the holes for and move the poles to an upright position that allows for wire to be strung over crossarms and deliver electricity to power our homes.

Our team of Project Indiana lineworkers is traveling to Guatemala today to start the process of stringing that wire and make all of the important connections that will ultimately power about 110 homes in San Jacinto. But, the residents of this village have been working incredibly hard to prepare for their arrival.

When Project Indiana offered to help electrify San Jacinto, the villagers committed to set approximately 70 poles before our project team arrives. That’s a momentous task for any line crew, but the team of villagers has done it without the heavy equipment we have the use of here in the states. They’ve done it all by hand. Their dreams run that deep.

They dream about what they can do and how they can improve the quality of life for their children – all with the aid of modern conveniences a simple flow of electric current can power. And, our lineworkers are helping turn those dreams into plans.

View more San Jacinto pole setting photos.