Veredas sol e lares¹: The first large experience of popular management in electric energy generation and distribution
The implementation of the photovoltaic plant in Grão Mogol (Minas Gerais – Brazil) with popular management is a result of the affected people` struggle in Jequitinhonha Valley
From February 2023, the Plant Veredas Sol e Lares will benefit up to 1.250 low-income families in the north of Minas Gerais with discounts on the CEMIG (company responsible for the distribution and generation of energy in Minas Gerais) bills, through energy credits. Set in Grão Mogol (MG), the plant was made possible through a research and technological development project and will be managed by the beneficiaries, organized in the Association Veredas Sol e Lares, themselves.
Founded last November 18, in Araçaí (MG), the association will act in the production (setting, operation and maintenance of the plant), use and compensation of the photovoltaic energy which will be produced aiming the regional development. Among the founder associates, the majority are young women, black women and rural workers, who has been acting in the research and mobilization of the 21 municipalities present currently included in the project.
A result of years of struggle of those affected by dams, the experience is a world milestone in the model of energy production and access, being an important example in popular management. In the last 19, 120 people took part in the planning of the last step of the project during the macroregional seminary “Our Union Our light”, carried out in Araçaí (MG).
The richness of Jequitinhonha Valley
While we write “Vale do Jequitinhonha” in the Google indexer, the researcher brings references to “poverty”, “lithium” and the “most poverty cities” in Minas Gerais. The stigma of misery has been used as a justification for the implementation of big enterprises of mining and monoculture of eucalyptus in the territory, focused on the generation of profit for international investors. Around that, an energetic project founded on the construction of hydroelectric power plants for the supply of big companies has been also raised, impacting diverse communities affected by socioenvironmental issues.
An experience like the project Veredas Sol e Lares, however, evidences and enhances the cultural and organizational richness of the Jequitinhonha Valley`s, which has built nothing less than the first large experience of popular management and electric energy generation distributed in the world. In this context, the Association Veredas Sol and Lares has the potential to become an example of an association in Brazil, which is going to manage the hugest floating photovoltaic plant in Latin America and produce innovative methodologies of popular planning. All these aspects of pioneering spirit demonstrate the capacity of the region to advance and influence the world in the construction of an energetic alternative founded in right to energy and popular control.
Our Union Makes Our Light
The seminary “Our Union Makes Our Light” was a moment to celebrate this richness and advance in this project. On the occasion, all the region diversity -urban nucleus, rural communities, quilombos, indigenous peoples, gerazeiros and riverside community – could get informed about the legal process of association construction, about the economic viability of the plant and about the popular organization necessary for the maintenance. All this was stitched together by the intervention of musicians who sang popular songs to liven up the space and celebrate the riches of the culture of Jequi and Pardo River.
A series of pedagogic tools composed the methodology of the seminary – booklets, songbooks, videos and presentations. In the video below, in which verses by MAB`s activist and popular researcher Lucas Martins narrate the story of Veredas, you can check out some of the topics discussed at the seminar and the presentation of the works on the plant that are the result, not only of an engineering project but from decades of building the struggle of those affected in the region.
 Research and Development Project “D 0632 Veredas Sol e Lares – an alternative for the multiple use of energy in reservoirs of hydroelectric power plants in the semi-arid region of Minas Gerais.
 Geraizeiros: Traditional population in the transition areas between Cerrado and Caatiga, between Northern Minas Gerais and Western Bahia. They have wisely adapted to the characteristics of the biome and its production possibilities. (https://redecerrado.org.br/comunidades_cerrado/geraizeiros/)