Can you imagine living a year without electricity? How about a month, a week, or even just a single day? Because rural electrification has been so successful in the United States, the majority of Americans living today are too young to remember how hard life was without reliable, affordable electric service. Most U.S. residents take it for granted that when they "flip a switch" they will have electric power. That is not true for much of the world's population. So once again, the nation's electric cooperatives stepped up to the plate to change the situation.
The International Division of the National Rural Electric Cooperatives Association (NRECA) began exporting the REA model of cooperative rural electrification in 1962. NRECA started recruiting managers, engineers, and other specialists from the cooperatives in the United States to go abroad and help rural people in under developed countries start their own electrification programs. Since 1962 NRECA has sent more than 400 rural electrification advisors to assignments in more than 65 countries, and the U.S. electric cooperatives have donated material and equipment that have been retired from service to the international effort.
As a direct result of electric cooperative efforts, today more than 75 million people around the world have lights in their homes and access to electric power. Still, more than two billion people in the world live without the benefits of electric power. Much remains to be done, and America's electric cooperatives, including Sumter EMC, are committed to staying the course until the lights come on across the world.