Together We Power On: Iowa’s electric cooperatives reflect on a challenging year and learn about future trends during statewide association’s virtual annual meeting
With the theme of “Together We Power On,” the Iowa Association of Electric Cooperatives (IAEC) conducted its 2020 annual meeting virtually with more than 400 registered attendees on Thursday, Dec. 3. Board directors and employees from Iowa’s locally owned electric cooperatives watched a live stream of the virtual meeting, where they received informative updates from IAEC Board President Steve Seidl and IAEC Executive Vice President and General Manager Chuck Soderberg.
“Our theme of Together We Power On is perfect for 2020,” remarked Seidl. “We all witnessed the core principle of cooperation among cooperatives firsthand when Iowa’s electric co-ops worked together to restore power safely and quickly following the August derecho storm. Owned and governed by the people we serve, electric co-ops are responsive and accountable.”
Soderberg added, “This year has been anything but ordinary for Iowa’s locally owned electric co-ops. I’m very proud of how our association members have worked relentlessly through the pandemic and storm restoration to ensure safe, reliable and affordable power for rural Iowa families, farms and businesses. These challenging times reinforce the cooperative notion that we are stronger when we work together.”
During the business meeting portion of the annual meeting, Gordon Greimann of Franklin Rural Electric Cooperative was reelected to the IAEC Board to represent District 6 and Roger Solomonson of Heartland Power Cooperative was reelected to represent District 3. Directors on the IAEC Board serve staggered, three-year terms. The IAEC Board would like to thank Jeff Ten Napel, general manager of Osceola Electric Cooperative, for completing his two-year term as the ex officio Managers’ Representative on the board. His term ends on Dec. 31 and Brian Krambeer, president and CEO of MiEnergy Cooperative, has been appointed to serve a two-year term as the Managers’ Representative on the IAEC Board beginning in January 2021.
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 in a virtual format this year.
Dr. Scott Tinker, director of the Bureau of Economic Geography at the University of Texas at Austin and documentary filmmaker, talked about the importance of a successful energy transition where humans are lifted from poverty and environmental impacts are reduced. According to Dr. Tinker, a successful transition to non-carbon energy sources starts with non-partisan energy education.
Attendees also heard from Dr. David Gattie, associate professor of engineering at the University of Georgia’s College of Engineering, as he analyzed trends in energy consumption and his perspective on U.S. energy policy. He provided helpful context on America’s energy policy debate surrounding the impacts of climate change.
David Wassermann, senior election analyst for The Cook Report, explained current demographic and cultural trends and their impact on the 2020 election.
Sheldon Petersen, who has served as CEO of the National Rural Utilities Cooperative Finance Corporation (CFC) for 25 years, provided his final financial update and economic outlook for Iowa’s electric cooperatives. An Iowa native who began his illustrious cooperative career in the state, Petersen will retire in early 2021.
For the closing keynote, attendees heard an inspiring story of perseverance from Lt. Jason Redman. A decorated Navy SEAL veteran, Redman shared his insights on how to overcome adversity and how major life ambushes can build mental leadership with his “Get off the X” methodology.
During the virtual annual meeting, IAEC honored several electric co-op employees and directors who celebrated 25 years of service in 2020. Co-op board directors who earned education certifications during the year were also recognized for their commitment to education and training.
Several Iowa electric cooperatives were congratulated during the virtual annual meeting for completing the Rural Electric Safety Achievement Program (RESAP) in 2020. RESAP is a national safety program that electric co-ops utilize as a framework to improve safety performance and culture.
In the days leading up to the virtual annual meeting, IAEC coordinated an online auction of personally donated items which raised over $4,000 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 38 distribution co-ops and nine generation and transmission co-ops. Formed more than 75 years ago, IAEC provides many vital functions for its members including legislative representation, regulatory oversight, training and education services, safety programs, and communications support. Learn more at www.iowarec.org.
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