BY CHUCK SODERBERG
Happy New Year to you and your family! 2017 is an exciting year for the Iowa Association of Electric Cooperatives as we celebrate our 75th anniversary. Back in 1942, our founding electric cooperatives saw the need to band together in order to do collectively what they couldn’t achieve on their own. The Iowa Rural Electric Cooperative Association was formed to promote and foster the growth and development of electric cooperatives and to bring electricity safely to all rural areas. In fact, the original mantra was “electricity on every Iowa farm!” Within its first year, the Iowa statewide association counted 50 electric cooperatives as members and a safety committee was formed to administer the safety and job-training program.
Today, our mission remains the same: ensuring rural Iowans have access to affordable, reliable, safe and sustainable energy. We also look out for the best interests of our member co-ops and for you by providing many vital functions, including legislative representation, regulatory oversight, training and education services, safety programs and communications support.
As we gear up for a new year, many challenges lay before us. During the November election, we were emboldened to see such a large turnout from rural Americans like you who made their priorities and frustrations very clear. We thank you for exercising your right to vote and for championing issues that are important to Iowa’s not-for-profit electric cooperatives. We’re ready to work with new leadership in Washington, D.C., and here in Iowa as Gov. Branstad prepares for an appointment to serve as ambassador to China.
In the year ahead, we look forward to celebrating our legacy of cooperative values while also reflecting on the impact and significance of rural electrification here in Iowa. In this day and age, it’s easy to forget how the convenience of electricity transformed daily life. Laborious tasks such as cooking, washing clothes and farm work became easier and safer when electric poles went up in the 1930s and 1940s. Modern conveniences like indoor plumbing, lighting and refrigeration were suddenly within reach for rural Iowans, improving their quality of life.
Throughout 2017, we’re looking forward to celebrating the history of rural electrification within the pages of Living with Energy in Iowa magazine. We’ll also continue to share how we’re advocating on your behalf as electric co-ops power, protect and grow Iowa’s rural communities for the next 75 years and beyond. As someone who has worked for Iowa’s electric cooperatives for more than 35 years, thank you for supporting the cooperative mission.
Chuck Soderberg is the executive vice president and general manager of the Iowa Association of Electric Cooperatives.