Manual / Handbook

Guides for Electric Cooperative Development and Rural Electrification

May 23, 2022

NRECA International produced this publication to advance the basic understanding of rural electrification development for policymakers, donor organizations, and practitioners. The publication leads the reader through 10 self-contained modules covering the organizational, legal, technical, and financial aspects of rural electrification project design and implementation and electric cooperative development. The entire collection can be accessed here:

Module 1. Legal and Institutional Enabling Systems for Sustainable Electric Cooperative Development. This module reviews the elements of developing a workable legal and institutional enabling framework for electric cooperatives and provides documentary guidelines for complying with the enabling laws and related regulatory components. In addition, it provides details and documentary samples for the organizational structures and internal governing and operating systems of cooperatives, and the agencies formed to enable them.

Module 2. Guide for the Creation of Electric Cooperatives. This module serves as a reference for developing countries that are embarking on the creation of a new electric cooperative. It presents a stepby-step process to form a cooperative, which is often the most appropriate solution to a lack of electricity in rural areas. View the Module here. 

Module 3. Roles and Responsibilities of Electric Cooperative Boards of Directors. The success of any institution depends on the quality, knowledge, experience, and integrity of its Directors and employees. This is also true for electric cooperatives. Being a cooperative does not guarantee success. Directors of electric cooperatives must know their role, their responsibilities and the responsibilities of the General Manager.

Module 4. Business Plan for Rural Electric Cooperatives. This module of the Technical Assistance Guides presents an explanation of the role and importance of a business plan in the development and promotion of a new rural electric cooperative, as well as a section-by-section description of the key components that a comprehensive and well organized business plan should contain.

Module 5. Methodology for Evaluating Feasibility of Rural Electrification Projects. Developing a well-designed, sustainable rural electrification project is one of the biggest challenges faced by governments and electric service utilities in developing countries. While providing public services to rural communities is increasingly important, rural electricity projects typically display a relatively high investment cost and low rates of consumption.

Module 6. Calculating Consumer Willingness to Pay and Economic Benefit Analysis of Rural Electrification Projects. Successful rural electric cooperatives and successful rural electrification programs have utilized different systems and methodologies to identify and prioritize project investments. Because electrification is highly capital intensive and financial resources are finite, it is critically important to determine empirically which projects are technically and financially feasible. This requires applying a consistent methodology to analyze the proposed projects and prioritize investments accordingly. NRECA has developed an objective methodology to analyze and then prioritize electrification projects. This module illustrates the various steps and tasks involved in the application of this methodology.

Module 7. Distribution Line Design and Cost Estimation for Rural Electrification Projects. This module sets forth the principles and establishes the recommendations for the electrical design of a rural electrification project or system. It also describes the procedure for the determination of costs, which serve as the basis for the feasibility analysis.

Module 8. Financial Analysis of Rural Electrification Projects. This module presents a discussion of the role of financial modeling in rural electric utility project analysis. It includes a description and user guide for the NRECA Financial Model software tool specifically developed to evaluate financial performance of rural electrification projects developed by NRECA team members in Latin America, Africa, and South and Central Asia.

Module 9. Productive Uses of Electrification. Many national governments have committed significant financial resources to bring modern electric services to rural communities. Many families who live within reach of electric service, however, have learned to do without. This is primarily due to their inability to pay for service, which deprives them of a source of entertainment, security, and income generation.

Module 10. Design and Implementation Guidelines for Stand-Alone Solar Photovoltaic Systems for Rural Electrification Projects. This module was developed for institutions and individuals involved in the promotion, design, and implementation of stand-alone solar photovoltaic (solar PV) rural electrification projects. Its concepts and guidelines allow the reader to evaluate a project’s technical and financial feasibility, project beneficiaries (i.e. energy demand), and factors affecting solar PV system component performance (e.g. solar irradiance, site geography, energy supply constraints, etc.). Readers will then be able to finalize system design and component selection for optimal system cost and performance. The solar PV design parameters and methodologies presented here also allow project practitioners to understand system operation and maintenance issues, an often overlooked necessity for the proper management of these systems in rural electrification applications.

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