Power Backpacker：Mobile electricity service brings better life for left-behind families
Wenzhou Electric Power Company of State Grid Corporation of China
This project has been launched in Taishun, a county in southern Zhejiang Province, China, to help residents in remote mountainous areas and small enterprises obtain easy public power services. Taishun is a mountainous area with scattered residential zones and inconvenient transportation. About 54,000 left-behind seniors, without Internet knowledge and equipment, had to walk 1.2 hours to handle power services offline to meet their demand for electricity. To ensure that residents there can get reliable power services like other people do, Wenzhou Electric Power Company of State Grid Corporation of China designed the Power Backpacker project, assigning project members there to assist them to save troubles and improve their living quality.
Planning and execution: 1. The project was launched in 2018. We set the working standards after field investigation, and then trained personnel and made the material list: a backpack with all kinds of necessary and portable power service equipment and materials. 2. We provide services in two forms: 1) Project members go to remote villages with tools in backpack and offer community residents: a) power related services with 18 options; b) check and maintain the power usage of local communities to troubleshoot potential safety risks; c) deliver skills and tips such as "quick access to services via the Internet", "safe power usage", "clean power". d) Collect and analyze data about other living needs of local people and enterprises to optimize service mode or develop new service. 2) While providing power-related services, we also seek partners to jointly carry out other services. We have cooperated with village committees and operation personnel of e-commerce companies in the communities. We provided trainings for them, so that they can offer basic services and expand the scope of beneficiaries. Monitoring: The project is managed the "leading-controlling- execution" mode. We set the assessment criteria and performance bonus to stimulate backpackers. In addition, we have special supervisors for regular spot checks and follow-up visits to local communities (accounting for over 30%) to ensure the authenticity and effectiveness of data and service. Resources: We have trained 59 backpackers, established 60 outlets with e-commerce companies and over 150 with village committees in communities. The salary for backpackers is RMB 3,200-4,200 per person per month. Other physical resources such as paper materials and maintenance tools cost low since they can be reused.
In the past three years, our services have covered all villages in Taishun, providing over 120,000 door-to-door services and handling 13,350 power services for local residents. Our monitoring shows that the number of local seniors handling services on foot dropped from 95% before the project to 7% now. We have helped about 48,000 residents. after we built 73 km of 10 kV distribution lines, 144 km of 0.4 kV low-voltage lines and 43 distributors and transformers, we have replaced other polluting energy sources with electricity for 73 enterprises and assisted 11 homestays powered all by electricity. By improving the quality of power usage, we promoted the economy of local villages. Meanwhile, we pay extra attention to local left-behind families and groups in need when offering door-to-door service, providing them with more cares in addition to power use.
Our practice benefits from many enabling factors: First, China's policy encourages the online services to save citizens' time of handling business offline, which provides a context for our cooperation with local governments. Second, this practice originates from the national power supply department with sufficient personnel, technologies and equipment, thus effectively controlling the cost. Third, China's advanced e-commerce and logistics industry has helped us expand the scope of practice. We have not encountered any obvious obstacle yet.
On the premise of professionalism and stable resource input, the key of our practice mode is the flexibility of technical personnel. It is easy to organize and coordinate, and the cost of upgrading is low. It is replicable for government departments or business organizations that need to provide public services to remote mountain villages. Also, because it can bring various types of benefits to other stakeholders and partners, it is easier for us to gain long-term resource support. In 2020, we turned the project into a brand and started promotion. We have been interviewed by several media, and made a well-recognized micro film Your Backpack. We have also established cooperation with public security bureaus, banks, hospitals and set up the Backpacker Alliance. We plan to hold an experience sharing meeting, formulate a standard work manual and promotional pictures, and integrate all service providers within the county into our alliance.
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COVID-19 has limited impact on this practice on condition that backpackers have adequate prevention measures. On the contrary, in earlier 2020 when the virus was raging in China, the practice of power backpackers never stopped, which ensured the reliability and safety of local power supply during the pandemic prevention period, and guaranteed the power supply of key pandemic prevention departments. We also held visits on pandemic preventions in cooperation with the local government to publicize China's power policy of "supply despite arrearage" during the period and provide other pandemic prevention information, which helped to reassure residents and facilitate the local pandemic prevention and control.
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Beneficiaries: local residents, schools and enterprises in Taishun, especially those who have no Internet and electricity safety knowledge; Main stakeholders: the local government that has great influence and resources in communities; Partners: Through cooperation with us, e-commerce companies and their outlets operators can increase traffic and form consumption inertia, which brings good economic and brand benefits to them.