Randy Erickson – Making a Difference in South Sudan

“Randy Erickson represented KEA, Alaska, and the United States in an exceptional way,” said KEA President/CEO Darron Scott.  “He unselfishly shared his time and skills to make life better for the people of South Sudan.”

“There’s no way I couldn’t not go.  I think about it every day.”  Randy Erickson, Chief Mechanic at KEA, described to the Board of Directors his recent volunteer trip to South Sudan. “I was able to give them hands on training and help in repairing malfunctioning power generators.”

On behalf of the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association’s (NRECA) International Foundation, Randy, KEA’s Caterpillar Generation Specialist, traveled to Yei and Maridi with Bob Ellinger, NRECA’s Chief of Party of the Electrification Sustainability Program in South Sudan and the project contact for USAID.   They joined Swalleh Rajab, Senior Commercial Specialist for the Program, in evaluating the generation units for the two electric cooperatives that provide these towns with electricity.  One project is a self-sustaining municipal electric cooperative serving approximately 1,300 consumer members.  The other project serves approximately 550 customers, including household, commercial enterprises, public institutions, and non-governmental organizations. The team worked with management, power plant operators, and mechanics to repair and service the power generators.  This work is funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development, and brings much needed sustainable electricity to the region.

Roots for the projects began after the 2005 peace agreement in South Sudan, when the NRECA International Foundation sent a team of experienced engineering and management staff to establish the first electric cooperative and later to build two more rural utilities in other areas.  The NRECA International team provided training at these utilities to strengthen the competency of their directors, management and employees.

And Randy’s thoughts?  “I would go back in a heartbeat,” he said.  “It hardened and softened me.  I will always be an ambassador for NRECA International and the work that they do.  They make a difference. I’ve seen it.”  To read more from Randy about his trip, visit http://www.nreca.coop/letter-randy-erickson-south-sudan/.

Congressman Don Young recognized Randy’s volunteer service by making a statement on the House floor on July 8.  Click on this link to hear his speech: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QLbSPIytaZ0.

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