BY ROGER SOLOMONSON
Oh, the people I have met and the places I have been during my two years as the board president of the Iowa Association of Electric Cooperatives (IAEC)! As my term ends this month at the IAEC annual meeting, I want to share some important memories.
The highlight of serving as your statewide president was traveling around Iowa to attend 36 electric cooperative meetings and talking with over 300 directors and 35 co-op managers in their own board rooms. These folks are dedicated men and women who are passionate about serving their communities. They are committed to making sure there is safe, reliable and affordable electricity available when member-consumers flip the switch to power their lives every day.
Raising our collective voice
Another high point was attending statewide legislative fly-ins to Washington, D.C., to speak with our elected officials along with industry lobbyists and experts in various fields. Watching our national government work (or sometimes not work) is always interesting.
I also often traveled to Des Moines during the Iowa legislative sessions to meet with state legislators to advocate for the members of rural electric cooperatives and to make sure electric cooperative voices were heard. As it was told to me, the rural electric movement was started by politics and may someday die in politics if we aren’t active and vocal.
Iowa nice, regional connections
In September, the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association held a regional meeting in Des Moines for attendees from six Midwestern states. We spent time learning from experts in several fields and receiving national updates. I also had the pleasure of meeting with other statewide board presidents to discuss mutual goals. I heard several comments about how friendly and clean Des Moines is, to which I shared we’re all about “Iowa nice” and encouraged them to come back soon.
One of my final duties as your statewide board president has been starting the search for IAEC’s next executive vice president and general manager, as Chuck Soderberg has announced plans to retire in July 2024 after almost nine years serving in that role. This is the most important job for the statewide board, and I know they will do an excellent job selecting the right person to lead Iowa’s electric cooperatives into the future.
As I leave the IAEC board in capable hands, I want to extend a heartfelt “thank you” to all I have served with in the past eight years, including fellow statewide board members, IAEC staff, Iowa electric co-op managers and directors.
It has been a pleasure to serve, and I wish you all blessings in the years ahead.
Roger Solomonson is the board president for the Iowa Association of Electric Cooperatives and a director at Heartland Power Cooperative.