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Do you remember what you were doing in July of 1979? That’s when my electric cooperative career began 45 years ago. When I started working for Northwest Iowa Power Cooperative (NIPCO) in the summer of ‘79, I had just graduated from college and was so excited to start my first job. I didn’t know much about the electric industry, but I soon learned how complicated it is to provide reliable, affordable power to the member-owners of Iowa’s electric cooperatives.

Over the years, many have asked what keeps me up at night. My answer is simple: This is not the time to restrict the use of any generation source to produce electricity. The electric industry must be allowed to use all resources to produce reliable, affordable electricity. This must include the use of coal, natural gas, nuclear and weather-dependent renewable resources such as wind and solar. An “all-of-the-above” strategy is the only way to meet the growing electricity needs of this country. Read more on Pages 6-7 of this issue.

Leading the statewide association

In my role as executive vice president and general manager of the Iowa Association of Electric Cooperatives (IAEC) for the past nine years, I have been blessed to help bring electricity to those less fortunate. Through IAEC’s participation in National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA) International projects in 2019 and just last month, Iowa’s electric cooperatives have helped two rural Guatemalan villages receive electricity for the very first time. This transformation will improve their lives in fundamental ways for generations. 

At IAEC, I have also worked to bolster our member co-ops’ cybersecurity defenses, as cyberattacks are now an ever-present threat in the electric industry. Iowa’s electric cooperatives have made great strides over the last four years, and the electric industry must remain vigilant in this area.

An honor serving co-op members

On July 31, I will retire after serving for 36 years at NIPCO and nine years at IAEC. It has been an honor to serve you in these roles. IAEC is in great hands as the board of directors’ leadership is second to none. The staff at IAEC work tirelessly to serve you, the electric cooperative member-owners.

I always tell my family to enjoy the journey of life. God has blessed me greatly, and I am excited for what lies ahead. Now, it’s time for me to shift gears and enjoy the rest of my journey. During my retirement, I will always have one eye on the electric industry while the other eye will be focused on my faith, family and friends.

Chuck Soderberg is the retiring executive vice president and general manager for the Iowa Association of Electric Cooperatives.

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