Randy Nixon and Dakota Conner know hard work. The two Snapping Shoals EMC linemen have spent countless hours building power lines and working in the worst conditions restoring power to SSEMC members during many storms. Now Nixon and Conner are ready for a new challenge — to bring power to the people of Guatemala.
Nixon and Conner are traveling to Guatemala where they will spend more than two weeks building a four-mile line to a remote village that has never had power. Nixon, who has been with Snapping Shoals EMC for 19 years and is currently a Crew Leader, says “A big part of our job is helping people, but this is an opportunity that doesn’t come around often. We saw it as a way to be a part of something bigger by helping others.”
Conner, who is a SSEMC Lead Lineman and has been with the co-op for nine years, agrees with Nixon. “It’s a chance to help people who need it and have no one else to help them.”
The two SSEMC linemen will join other linemen from across the state, including linemen from GreyStone Power, Cobb EMC, Walton EMC, Habersham EMC, Coweta-Fayette EMC and Jackson EMC, for the 17-day trip building lines in the north central part of Guatemala for the village of Sesaltul. The Sesaltul Electrification Project will be located in the Alta Verapez Department, which has a population of approximately 760,000. The Sesaltul Project will provide power to 90 households in the region.
The Sesaltul Electrification Project is sponsored by the NRECA International Fund. Since 1962, NRECA International has empowered more than 160 million people worldwide to improve their quality of life by providing them access to safe, reliable and affordable electricity. A diverse team of engineers and rural electrification experts design and implement successful rural electrification programs that bring power to communities. The NRECA International Fund has helped establish more than 250 electric utilities and electric cooperatives in 48 countries. Snapping Shoals EMC donates at least $1,500 to the fund annually.
To prepare for the trip, Nixon said he received several vaccinations and an expedited passport while Conner points out he had to make sure everything at home was taken care of before he leaves his family for more than two weeks. But both agree that all the preparation and hard work will be worth the effort. “We’ll be using skills we’ve acquired in our jobs to improve these people’s lives and their economy,” Conner said.
Nixon agrees, saying, “The satisfaction of improving someone’s life other than your own is the biggest reward. It’s not like a storm where we’re going to restore power to someone who already has it. We’ll be improving the quality of someone’s life forever.”