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Renewable Energy Professionals From Portland, Oregon Take Talents To Nicaragua With Green Empowerment

 Improving Village Life Through Renewable Energy, Water and Sustainable Farming


Portland, Ore. – March 27, 2013 – Portland, Oregon is the North American headquarters of many global renewable energy companies and this spring some renewable industry professionals will turn off their Smartphones, push away from their desks and physically install solar panels in rural Nicaragua through Green Empowerment, a Portland-based nonprofit that promotes sustainable development around the world.


“It’s a chance for Portlanders who usually deal with only their small part of extremely sophisticated, commercial-scale renewable energy to get their hands dirty building a project from start-to-finish. In doing so, they will help improve life for a family in Nicaragua,” said trip leader David Lindoo, of Sunlight Solar Energy, who worked on Green Empowerment solar projects in Peru in 2010.

“I hope to enhance my theoretical understanding of sustainable development with this hands-on, real-world application of sustainable technology. I have a strong interest in economic and environmental issues in developing nations, and the obstacles and opportunities related to sustainable development,” said Steven H. Smith, San Francisco Planning Department.


“This trip is the perfect bridge for two of my passions--Latin America and renewable power. I've traveled to Costa Rica in the past and have heard about life in Nicaragua and the struggles of access to clean water and electricity. I've never had an opportunity to build a small-scale renewable system and look forward to learning and working with local communities to do so,” said Nay Shayan, manager of Portland General Electric’s Commercial and Industrial Clean Wind Program.


The group will install a solar irrigation system to help improve nutrition in El Jocote. The locals live on rice and beans most of the year unless they can pump water to grow tomatoes and other vegetables to diversify their diet, and sell surplus food for extra income.  


Green Empowerment hosts annual service learning trips with universities, including Vassar, Stanford, Portland State University, and Presidio Graduate School. All Green Empowerment efforts are coordinated with in-country non-profit partners. In Nicaragua, Green Empowerment has been working with the Nicaraguan-run non-governmental organization Asofenix since 2002 to help rural communities’ access water and electricity through renewable energy. In 2011, AsoFenix won awards both in the Water category and for Best Project in Nicaragua at the prestigious annual Energy Globe awards in Austria.


“No one feels the benefits of clean water more than women, who used to have to haul buckets of water from contaminated sources. Now, many local women have the leadership roles in our community projects,” said Green Empowerment staffer Caitlyn Peake, who has been working in Nicaragua for more than three years. Peake added that another element of Green Empowerment programs is the construction of improved cook stoves to reduce deforestation and to help prevent lung disease resulting from indoor smoke from traditional cooking fires.


Professionals from 12 companies and agencies leave for Nicaragua April 6. The group completed two all-day technical trainings March 9 and 10 in Portland.


“I’ve helped utilities integrate wind power into their energy portfolios since 1999,” said Matt Dennis of Iberdrola Renewables, the largest renewable energy provider in the world.  “But this will definitely be the first time I’ve built a solar irrigation system with my own hands.”

About Green Empowerment

Green Empowerment is an international non-profit based in Portland, Oregon that provides villages in the developing world access to clean water, electricity through renewable energy, and sustainable solutions. Green Empowerment was founded in 1997 and has current projects in Nicaragua, Colombia, Peru, Malaysia, the Philippines, and along the Thailand/Burma border, as well as regional networks around biogas, small wind-turbines, and micro-hydroelectricity. Green Empowerment has enabled over 24,000 people to electrify their homes with renewable energy, over 6,000 connect to clean water sources, and over 192,000 patients now use clinics with modern lighting and electricity.


For more information:


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Media contact: Sherri Phillips, Green Empowerment

(503) 284-5774 /

Help Green Empowerment expand their programs by donating online:


For more information about renewable energy workshops and future service learning trips, please email

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