“The right to live in the rural zone with dignity". This phrase represents the Luz Para Todos program, carried out by Neoenergy in partnership with the Federal Government in order to promote the universalization of electric energy in rural areas. The words were said by Julinda dos Santos, known as Biquinha, a resident of the Fundão Community in the municipality of Conde (BA). She is one of the 2.4 million people who have benefited from Luz Para Todos in Bahia since its implementation in 2004, until September 2020. The program, which will be carried out in Bahia up to December 2021, has already been implemented in Pernambuco, São Paulo, Mato Grosso do Sul and Rio Grande do Norte - Neoenergia's concession areas - transforming people's lives and the scenario of the cities.
Biquinha is well aware of the impact that energy had on her daily life. Housewife and farmer, with two children, she tells how life was before the energy arrival: “Life was more difficult. We could only hear the news and events through the radio, the food was salted to last longer, the darkness of the night put everyone in bed early, the soap operas were just stories told by visitors".
All of that changed in January 2019, when Luz Para Todos brought energy to the community where Biquinha lives. “Today it seems like another world here in Fundão. TV cheers children and adults with so many things never seen before, we have access to information and we can talk about new subjects, we have a fridge to put food in, so we no longer need to eat so much salt, the water is cooler and colder, and the pump in the river takes water to the houses", she says.
The benefits go beyond those existing in everyday life, such as having a fridge and a TV set. Biquinha reports that she noticed improvements in health care and food, especially for children, and now everyone is happier to live in Fundão Community. “Energy made us see life with more perspective. They say that we live in a paradise and, therefore, our friends and family come to visit us more frequently. No matter the distance, if people could, they would live here too", she concludes.
In Bahia, 664 thousand homes are already served by Luz Para Todos in a 16-year period, reaching the highest number of new connections among all Brazilian states. The works cover over 415 cities in Bahia and the goal is to power the entire state by 2021, consolidating universalization in Bahia. “We are very proud to integrate Luz Para Todos achievements, which has transformed so many lives. The satisfaction of seeing the energy reach these places is huge, mainly because we know the positive impact it brings to each one", says Mayline Pinto, Luz para Todos Management Unit supervisor at Neoenergia.
Joana Guedes, a resident of the municipality of Extremoz (RN), has a lot to tell. She has lived in the area for more than 20 years and, in 2005, saw the energy reaching her home, a moment marked by a lot of expectation and happiness. “I was always happy, but when the energy came, that's when I was really happy", she says, with a smile.
Among the achievements made with the arrival of electricity, she highlights something simple, but that often does not receive the due value: making fruit juice in a blender and drinking cold refreshment. “Before, I needed to squeeze the fruits, like acerola, cashew and mango, with my hand", she explains.
Other achievement came with the celebration of the daughter's wedding party in the backyard. “She got married in 2006, right after the energy came here, so it was very good, because I invited everyone, I lit up the whole yard, it was so beautiful", she remembers happily.
Similar joy is shared by Maria de Fátima da Silva, a resident of Ceará-Mirim (RN). When she moved to the site, she had to dispose of all her appliances, as the home had no electricity. “At that time, when it was six o'clock, we already had to have dinner and go to bed, because there was no entertainment. I needed to light a kerosene candle or lamp", she says.
It took almost a year for the Luz Para Todos program to reach the village where Maria de Fátima lives. “Cosern employee came calling my name and said he was going to connect energy in my house, so for me it was very rewarding, I cried and found it hard to believe. I asked myself “is it true?", then he confirmed and I just wanted to say thanks, while he looked at me without understanding why I was thanking him so much. But only those who have no energy know how good it is when it arrives", she sums it up.
In Rio Grande do Norte, Luz Para Todos was active between 2004 and 2015, a period in which the State received Cosern's works so that the energy could reach all the municipalities in the State. As a result, Neoenergia's concessionaire accounts for 57,654 connections made within the program during the 11 years.
In Pernambuco, Celpe's concession area, the number of new houses benefited by Luz Para Todos reached 102,157 between 2004 and 2015. Elektro, which operates in 223 municipalities in São Paulo countryside and five in Mato Grosso do Sul, was responsible for 49,458 new connections from 2005 to 2016.
“All of these achievements are the result of Neoenergia's commitment to strengthening people and communities. The initiatives are in line with the Sustainable Development Goals established by the United Nations, with a special focus on SDG number 7, which refer to the access to clean and accessible energy. Therefore, we our work aims to provide such an essential asset as energy, bringing quality of life to everyone", concludes Neoenergia's supervisor.