Painesville Linemen Travel to Navajo Nation to Help Bring Power to Thousands

Last week, two Painesville Electric linemen packed their bags and were sent to the Southwest to bring electricity to members of Navajo Nation. Corey Hersman and Ryan Kelly, linemen of Painesville Municipal Electric, joined public utility crews from across the country in an effort known as ‘Light Up Navajo,’ a pilot initiative by the American Public Power Association that supports electrification of Navajo Nation by working with the Navajo Tribal Utility Authority.


Hersman and Kelly volunteered for the project, which would bring power to thousands who have never had electricity. “Our supervisor came to the shop and explained to us that people didn’t have power in the 27,000 square mile area the Navajo have and I could not imagine living without power,” said Hersman. “So I was like ‘I’ll go give them power!’ I jumped at the opportunity.”


The pair left on April 19 and returned April 27. They worked in the Arizona part of the reservation, around the Kayenta area. While Painesville and 24 other public utilities provided volunteers, some utilities supported the project by supplying trucks, wire, poles and transportation.


“I’m so incredibly proud of Corey and Ryan for participating in this program because it aligns with the foundation of Public Power, public service,” said Painesville City Manager Monica Irelan Dupee. “It was an amazing opportunity to help at the national level, and Painesville Municipal Electric is proud to lend a hand.”


Navajo Nation is the largest Native American tribe in the United States, with an estimated population of 300,000 Navajos, 190,000 of which reside on the reservation. Of this population, approximately 15,000 homes have never had electricity due to lack of infrastructure and funding. That makes up 75% of all unelectrified households in the United States. Connecting these homes brings reliable lighting, refrigeration, communication and other basic services to Navajo families.


“There was a lady and two younger kids and she never had power her whole life, she’s in her forties,” said Hersman. “We got her power on and the first thing she says is ‘I’m going to go grocery shopping for a week,’ so she can keep the food cold. Then she got all teary eyed and it got me emotional. It was one of the best feelings I’ve ever had in my life. Just so she can turn on that light switch. It was amazing,” said Hersman.


The City of Painesville became involved with the Light Up Navajo project through its membership with American Municipal Power, Inc. (AMP), who helped sponsor volunteers from three of its Ohio municipalities: Painesville, Piqua and Wadsworth. Each community was sent to different locations in the Navajo Nation throughout April 2019.







Video Interviews with Corey Hersman, Painesville Lineman