Solar panels energize Mexican communities for the first time
TransCanada provides the energy that North American’s use every day. Most of us enjoy our lifestyles of convenience because we haven’t known it to be any other way. We are able to turn our lights on with the flick of a switch.
Some remote communities in Mexico near TransCanada’s El Encino-Topolobampo pipeline project are experiencing power for the first time as a result of local investments made by TransCanada.
The 530 kilometre (330 mile) El Encino Topolobampo pipeline construction project runs through some of the most challenging geography TransCanada has faced on its projects – including monumental mountain ranges and gullies in the famous Sierra Tarahumara.
Some of the indigenous communities along the pipeline route are so remote that that TransCanada used an air crane from Erickson to transport more than 1,000 pipeline segments to the region.
This region is home to some of the poorest and most isolated indigenous communities in Mexico, and where TransCanada has recognized a need for assistance.
TransCanada recently installed solar panels in the remote community of San Elías, an indigenous community of about 100 inhabitants. The investment will provide electricity for at least 25 years to some common areas and facilities such as the local health center and community school.
These facilities also provide services for 200 other nearby residents from smaller and equally remote communities.
In addition to the solar panels in San Elías, furniture and equipment were provided to a local orphanage in Cuauhtemoc which will provide services for 500 kids. The same orphanage was provided with playground equipment in 2014.
“To us, TransCanada’s support was like a big miracle,” said Denver Penner, orphanage administrator, who grew up in Canada but whose parents were born in Mexico.
“It fills me with pride that TransCanada is working with us here in Mexico, not only by creating jobs with the construction of the pipeline, but by also changing the lives of these kids.”
Not only energizing communities with power
Due to the remoteness of the region, it was no shock to discover that residents also lacked some basic necessities.
Recognizing the needs in the area, TransCanada made additional investments to support local communities along the route, including:
- In the community of La Noria, building materials were donated for building a small dam which will supply water to the nearly 1,000 habitants of the community.
- TransCanada organized a reforestation journey in Cuauhtemoc which included planting over 700 trees in a park at the center of town. The park is a popular recreation place for the more than 114,000 habitants of the small city.
- In a town called Creel, TransCanada provided sport uniforms for the local high school’s volleyball team so the students could participate in the state tournament.
- In La Laguna, an investment of $75,000 CDN was made to build a new baseball field, as the previous facility was affected by the pipeline project. Once a second stage is complete, TransCanada will build the stalls so the field can be used as a stadium and events center.
Hollywood dreams become a reality
Recently, a total of 204 children, 72 parents and 11 teachers from needy communities around the El Oro-Mazatlán construction area – 90 per cent of the kids and 60 per cent of the parents whom had never visited a movie theatre or a city before – were recently taken for a day trip on the town by the project team.
TransCanada rented busses and three movie theatres for children from four schools and an orphanage.
They viewed the film ‘Home’, an animated feature about an alien on the run from his own people and hooking up with an adventurous soul named Tip.
“When the theatre went dark, loud screams were replaced by sighs, wows, and then more screams and laughter throughout,” said Verónica Esquivel, community relations coordinator for the El Oro-Mazatlán Project.
“In the dark room you could catch the glimpse of smiles and happiness in the young faces, and occasionally tears of emotion from the parents.
“The mothers and teachers thanked and blessed TransCanada for doing something that every child and their parents will never forget.”
“The fact is that we need to care about one of the most vulnerable groups in our societies – the kids – and certainly in Mexico there are lots of them in need,” said Esquivel. “What we can do is our part to make their lives just a little easier and happier, sharing what for some of us are normal aspects of our lives which for them have just been dreams up to this point.”
Learn more about TransCanada’s commitment to corporate social responsibility, view the 2014 CSR Report.