By Sgt. Richard Andrade

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti - Sgt. 1st Class Jason Jacot, a prime power specialist from Company B, 249th Engineer Battalion (Prime Power), XVIII Airborne Corps, Fort Bragg, N.C., and Gene Mongole, a Navy engineering technician from Washington D.C., assessed post-earthquake damage to a power transmission plant substation in east Port-au-Prince, Jan. 31.

Upon arrival to the substation, they spoke with the director and plant workers that were fixing some of the broken elements in the plant and determined the earthquake damage was substantial.

Most of the equipment at the plant is outdated and costly to maintain and operate. The electrical system is so unreliable that many Haitians have had to rely on their own personal diesel generators.

According to the World Bank, Haitians who have access to electricity received an average of 10 hours of electricity a day, with very large disparities among the areas covered.

According to their website, the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association International Foundation has been present in Haiti since 1998. The foundation coordinated donations of money, material, and volunteer labor from the U.S. to help Haitians and establish the Cooperative Electrique de Pignon, the first electric cooperative in Haiti. "I would like the United States to modernize this station," said Markeste Theolien, director of the substation.

Theolien walked the U.S. engineers around the substation and showed them the broken equipment that needed replacing.

"This substation is the central substation of the whole city," said Theolien.

When asked what he needed, Theolien replied, "two more powerful transformers."

Theolien said the Dominican Republic is helping the Haitians with the rebuilding process.

"I will get together with the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association so we can determine the overall need," said Jacot.