Celebrating achievements and preparing for new leadership at IAEC 2023 Annual Meeting
The Iowa Association of Electric Cooperatives (IAEC), the trade association for Iowa’s electric cooperatives, conducted its 2023 Annual Meeting at the Sheraton West Des Moines Conference Center on December 7 and 8 with more than 350 registered attendees. Board directors and employees from Iowa’s locally owned electric co-ops received informative updates from statewide board and staff in addition to learning about industry trends and best practices from invited speakers.
“Our theme of Powerful Connections explains one of the valuable services that a statewide association provides for its members,” remarked outgoing IAEC Board President Roger Solomonson of Heartland Power Cooperative. "For example, IAEC forms connections through lobbying efforts, our statewide magazine, social media, youth leaderships programs and training events for employees and directors of Iowa’s electric cooperatives.”
IAEC Executive Vice President and General Manager Chuck Soderberg covered several topics during his executive report including cybersecurity resources available to member co-ops and the importance of embracing an “all-of-the-above” power generation strategy to ensure reliability for member-consumers. This was Soderberg’s final annual meeting report as he plans to retire from IAEC in July 2024.
During the business meeting portion of the annual meeting, two directors were elected to the IAEC Board: Jerry Keleher of Allamakee-Clayton Electric Cooperative was elected to serve a three-year term representing District 3 following Roger Solomonson’s departure, and Gordon Greimann of Franklin Rural Electric Cooperative was reelected to serve a three-year term representing District 6. The IAEC Board would like to thank outgoing director Roger Solomonson of Heartland Power Cooperative for his leadership and service to Iowa’s electric cooperatives during his 8-year tenure. He was presented with a commemorative plaque during the business meeting in recognition of his exemplary service.
Following the annual meeting, the new slate of directors reorganized and announced the following officers:
- IAEC Board President: Kenny VandenBerg, District 1 director from Chariton Valley Electric Cooperative
- IAEC Board Vice President: Jim Miller, District 5 director from Calhoun County Electric Cooperative Association
- IAEC Board Secretary/Treasurer: Deena Moore, District 4 director from Southwest Iowa Rural Electric Cooperative
- IAEC Board Assistant Secretary/Treasurer: Tony Lem, District 2 director from Consumers Energy
The IAEC Annual Meeting is also an opportunity for attendees to learn more about the electric industry and future trends that may impact rural Iowa’s economy and quality of life. IAEC presented several educational sessions, including:
Author, podcaster and film producer Robert Bryce discussed the physical and barriers to a rapid transition from carbon-based energy sources. He provided a realistic forecast about how our electric grid will change in the coming decades.
Kavi Chalwa and Jeff Kappen from Bâton Global talked about disorder in geopolitics and how it will influence economic growth on various scales. They provided insights on how Iowa’s electric cooperatives can best navigate these challenges for organizational success.
Dale Lambert, CEO of Randolph Electric Membership Corporation in North Carolina, presented a case study on how his co-op responded to a substation sabotage attack that left thousands of members without power.
Iowa’s current Youth Leadership Council representative is Olivia Marti, sponsored by Allamakee-Clayton Electric Cooperative. Olivia talked about the importance of the 7 Cooperative Principles.
National speaker Michelle Gielan talked about how effective, positive communication is the single biggest driver of success at work. With a background in psychology and TV broadcasting, she shared simple techniques for positive communication that deliver results.
Mark Tiemeier of the Midwest Reliability Organization informed attendees about how changes in electric generation mix and resources challenge grid operators. Mark is responsible for leading MRO’s annual regional risk assessment.
Closing out the annual meeting, professional speaker and author Erick Rheam talked about how to rise above chaos and discover significance.
IAEC celebrated the first 15 graduates of its new Cooperative Leadership in Iowa Program (CLIP) for emerging leaders. Participants committed to a yearlong calendar of in-person, virtual and on-demand training sessions where they gained leadership skills and learned about various co-op roles. The statewide association also honored several electric co-op employees and directors who celebrated 25 years of service in 2023 along with acknowledging cooperatives that completed the Rural Electric Safety Achievement Program (RESAP) this year.
As part of the Annual Meeting program, IAEC coordinated an auction of personally donated items which raised over $16,000 for the Iowa Friends of Rural Electrification (Iowa FORE) political action committee. The funds will stay in Iowa to aid state legislators and candidates who support electric cooperatives.
The Iowa Association of Electric Cooperatives is a trade association which represents the interests of locally owned electric cooperatives in the state, including 39 distribution co-ops and nine generation and transmission co-ops. Formed more than 80 years ago, IAEC provides many vital functions for its members including legislative representation, regulatory oversight, training and education services, safety programs, and communications support. View the 2023 annual report and learn more at www.iowarec.org.
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