As you know, the transformation sweeping our industry is happening at lightning speed. As we move toward a cleaner energy future, AEP is preparing by making significant investments in technology, strategic partnerships, talent development and capacity-building for new skills. At the same time, we continue to diversify our resource portfolio. While fossil fuels continue to be vital to the reliability and resiliency of the power grid, our path forward is much less carbon intensive.
Our Corporate Sustainability team put together this 2017 year-end update to reflect AEP’s ongoing transformation within our operations as well as our culture. It is a great time to be a part of our company and our industry, below are several highlights and key accomplishments from across the AEP enterprise.
Energy and Environment
- In July, AEP announced plans for the $4.5 billion Wind Catcher Energy Connection project, which will provide 2,000 megawatts (MW) of new wind energy for customers in Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma and Texas. In October, we held 11 open houses in four states to introduce the project and gain valuable landowner input to help determine a proposed route for the approximately 350-mile 765 kilovolt generation tie-line need to deliver the renewable energy from Wind Catcher to customers. Regulatory hearings begin in January 2018.
- The Donald C. Cook Nuclear Plant in Michigan completed its refueling outage for Unit 1 in late November. The 76 day outage was necessary to refuel the reactor and perform regular maintenance and inspections.
- 2017 will be remembered for the damage caused by multiple hurricanes. AEP Texas was hard hit by hurricane Harvey, the largest storm to hit the company’s service territory in 44 years. The storm knocked out power to approximately 220,000 AEP Texas customers at the height of the event. AEP employees answered the call again in September for recovery assistance when hurricane Irma hit the Gulf Coast and Southeast. Thousands of AEP employees were deployed to help with the restoration efforts. From mainland to island, AEP is also helping restore power in Puerto Rico. The company contributed 3,000 insulators and sent a team of employees to assist with restoration of power in Puerto Rico, where the power grid suffered substantial damage from hurricanes Irma and Maria.
- In 2017, AEP Transmission’s Robison Park-Sorenson transmission line rebuild in Indiana, using the new Breakthrough Overhead Line Design (BOLDR)technology, earned the prestigious Edison Award – the Edison Electric Institute’s most prestigious award. The award recognizes “distinguished leadership, innovation and contribution to the advancement of the electric industry.” BOLD transmission lines offer greater power delivering capacity with a smaller profile. This also marked the second consecutive year that AEP received the Edison Award. BOLD also received the “International Tower Design Award” from CIGRE Korea and the Korea Electric Power Company for its practical and environmentally friendly design. And, in December, the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC) presented BOLD with its “2017 Utility Industry Innovation in Electricity” award. In addition, one of the line’s developers was recognized with the “2017 Top Forty Innovators” award from Public Utilities Fortnightly for his work in taking BOLD from concept to the first transformational design the industry has seen in nearly 50 years.
- Improving lives is central to AEP’s mission and a focus of AEP’s and the AEP Foundation’s work in communities. In October 2017, the AEP Foundation awarded a $1 million grant to support LifeCare Alliance Meals-on-Wheels in central Ohio. In addition to the grant, nearly 100 AEP employees regularly volunteer lunch hours to deliver meals to older adults and those who are sick or unable to provide or prepare food for themselves. This combined effort reflects AEP’s vision to power a new and brighter future for customers and communities.
- In 2017, the AEP Foundation’s signature Credits Count program was expanded to Laredo, Texas, and Charleston, West Virginia, opening new windows of opportunity for high school and middle school students to be introduced to STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) careers. The program also helps students close learning gaps so they are ready to study college-level courses while still in high school. By the time the students graduate, they will have earned credits that count toward a certificate in a STEM-related career or college degree in fields that include advanced manufacturing and computer and information technology. The AEP Foundation has now established seven Credits Count programs throughout AEP’s service territory. The partnerships with community colleges are in place in local school districts in Ohio, Louisiana, West Virginia, Texas, Indiana, Oklahoma and Kentucky.
- AEP received a perfect score on the 2018 Corporate Equality Index, a national benchmark of workplace policies, benefits and practices for members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) communities sponsored by the Human Rights Campaign Foundation. AEP’s score ranks the company among the 2017 Best Places to Work for LGBT Equality list.
- In 2017, AEP was named a Best Place to Work for Disability Inclusion for the second consecutive year according to the Disability Equality Index (DEI). The U.S. Business Leadership Network and the American Association of People with Disabilities conducts the DEI survey. AEP was one of 110 companies surveyed that together employ 7.2 million workers in 21 sectors of the American economy.
- In 2017, AEP was named to Fortune magazine’s World’s Most Admired Companies list in the electric and gas utilities sector for the fourth consecutive year. The survey measures nine attributes related to financial performance and corporate reputation.
- AEP was named one of the nation’s t op 10 utilities for economic development by Site Selection Magazine for the sixth consecutive year. One of AEP’s most notable economic development projects last year was Sofidel’s $300-million paper plant in Circleville, Ohio, which required the relocation of a transmission line. AEP’s proactive efforts also helped Ashland, Kentucky, land one of its biggest economic development projects in recent years. Braidy Industry’s $1.3 billion aluminum rolling mill will bring 550 jobs to an area hit hard by coal industry-related job losses. AEP also contributed to Amazon and Facebook’s decisions to locate data centers in Central Ohio, as well as ExxonMobil’s decision, in partnership with SABIC, to locate an ethane steam cracker in South Texas.
- AEP is participating in a voluntary industry initiative to help provide electric industry investors with more uniform and consistent environmental, social, governance, and sustainability-related (ESG/sustainability) metrics. The company is incorporating the Edison Electric Institute’s (EEI’s) pilot ESG/sustainability reporting template into its long-term program of corporate accountability reporting. AEP is a member of the steering committee to help lead the EEI ESG/sustainability reporting effort. A working group comprised of institutional investors who specialize in asset management, ESG/sustainability, investment banking, and buy-side and sell- side research and electric company officials from various disciplines, including accounting, environment, ESG/sustainability, finance, treasury, investor relations and legal developed the pilot metrics. Find AEP’s Pilot EEI ESG Report here.
- AEP also participated in a refresh of electric power industry priority issues with the Electric Power Research Institute’s (EPRI) Energy Sustainability Interest Group. The report, available publicly, identifies 20 priority issues for the industry across the three pillars – economic, environmental, and social responsibility – of sustainability.
We are committed to engaging with all of our stakeholders, including economic development partners, prospects and customers. Do you have questions or feedback? Let us know, we look forward to continuing the dialogue.