Brighter World Initiative

Beyond delivering electricity, electric cooperatives are committed to creating new opportunities and supporting programs that help people and communities thrive.

Through the Brighter World Initiative, North Carolina’s electric cooperatives have extended their gifts, and the cooperative way, to bring first-time access to electricity to people in the rural village of Laphía, Bolivia.

In the spring of 2019, 13 volunteer linemen representing seven N.C. co-ops built five miles of power line infrastructure that connected this central Bolivian village to the power grid. More than 75 buildings were connected, including a school, bringing new opportunities and advantages to the 120 residents of the rural, agricultural community.


At an elevation of 11,600 feet, the people of Laphía subsist by growing potatoes and flowers. Most live in modest homes of adobe brick and thatch roofs. Before the Brighter World Initiative, none had access to food refrigeration or the ability to use electric devices for household chores or to aid in their economic growth.

More than one billion people live without electric power around the world, according to the International Energy Agency, and only 66 percent of rural Bolivians had access to electricity as of 2016.

According to village leaders, access to electricity is creating new economic and educational opportunities and a stronger community, as young people will be able to stay in the village, rather than moving to the city. Connection to the grid is also providing overhead lighting for the school building, as well as extended access to a small computer lab.

The project is a collaborative initiative supported by all 26 electric cooperatives in North Carolina. Volunteers for the project represent:

Blue Ridge Energy, Lenoir
Edgecombe-Martin County EMC, Tarboro
Pee Dee Electric, Wadesboro
Randolph EMC, Asheboro
Roanoke Cooperative, Aulander
South River EMC, Dunn
Surry-Yadkin EMC, Dobson

The project was completed in partnership with NRECA International, which works to develop and implement successful, sustainable, scalable rural electrification programs that improve education, healthcare, safety and economic opportunity. The organization has brought electricity to more than 160 million people in 44 developing countries since 1962.

View additional photos of the volunteers, villagers and community of Laphía on Google Photos.

Chris Spears, CEO of South River EMC

“Electric cooperatives in North Carolina were founded to bring power to rural areas, and this project reinforces our commitment to supporting people and communities and improving quality of life.”

Chris Spears, CEO of South River EMC