Skip to content

Akins discusses impact of shale gas on electric utility industry with Fox Business News

Nick Akins, AEP chairman, president and chief executive officer, discussed the impact of shale gas on the electric utility industry, economic growth in the U.S. and more July 25 in an interview with Fox Business News.

Is shale gas the wave of the future for all electric utilities?

AEP CEO Nick Akins discussed shale gas activities across AEP’s service territory with Fox Business News July 25.

“Absolutely. There is a transformation occurring in our industry, and when you look at the shale gas activities that are prevelant in the footprint of the 11-state territory that we serve, we’re seeing substantial growth,” said Akins. “Shale gas counties are growing at the order of 39 percent from last year. That’s huge. And obviously the industrials are following with petrochemical activity and so forth. So we’re seeing positive growth in our industrial sector as a result.”

Akins noted that the most dramatic growth is occurring in Texas and Ohio — where the shale fields are booming.

Turning to the economy as a whole, Akins said utilities such as AEP continue to see a positive growth trend across the country.

“We’re certainly seeing consistent increases from the economic perspective. For the last three or four quarters, we’ve seen continual progress in that regard,” Akins noted, “so it’s clear to us that there is some activity going on in the economy.

“When you start to see the industrial class of customers pick up — and certainly our commerical class has held in there and the residential, as well — those tend to follow one another, and the more growth we see, the better off our customers are as a result,” he added.

While AEP will continue to strive for a balanced portfolio of energy sources — coal, natural gas, nuclear, wind, solar, etc. — Akins said most of the future growth will come from natural gas.

“When we look at our nuclear portfolio, it’s very, very expensive to put in place, and certainly there’s risk associated with a 10-year cycle time for construction,” Akins explained. “So when you compare that against natural gas that you can put into place in two-to-three years, and the cost of natural gas has come down considerably, it really drives you to that solution.”


Wellness Journey: Sanders starts new cycle free of tobacco use

Frank Sanders spends some quality time on his boat. He is also an avid bicyclist after quitting the tobacco use habit 10 years ago.

AEP cares about the safety, health and well-being of its employees and retirees. All employees are invited to share their stories about the changes they are making to live healthier lives. This “Wellness Journey” is from Frank (Norm) Sanders, operations specialist at Knox Lee Power Station in Longview, Texas.

Where I was and how I got there:

I started smoking at a young age. Somewhere along the line, I also picked up the smokeless tobacco habit.

My turning point:

I had just finished a dip of smokeless tobacco in the control room one night. As I ran my tongue along the inside of my bottom lip, I felt some small bumps. I looked in a mirror and saw several small raised white spots. I was aware of smokeless tobacco causing oral cancer. I was concerned enough, so I made the decision to stop dipping. The spots went away once I quit. Since that time, I have also kicked the habit of smoking cigarettes. I can relate to others who have talked about how difficult it is to quit, but I am now tobacco free.

Significant changes:

I haven’t used tobacco in over 10 years. I can now take a deep breath without that little catch in my throat. My doctor told me more than once that breaking the tobacco habit was one of the best choices anyone could make to improve their health.

Staying on track:

I was overweight when I quit smoking and I started going on bike rides. At first, I could only go a few miles. I will share a tip I discovered — whenever the craving hit me for a cigarette, it would go away if I exerted myself a little and raised my respiratory rate. My longest bicycle ride is now 40 miles. Due to a health issue I couldn’t ride last year and have gained some weight back. I plan to start riding again very soon with some 10- and 15-mile trips. Just for the record, I will be 63 next month and a 10-mile ride is not a problem if I pace myself.

Paying it forward:

I think exercise has to be fun. For me, a bike ride taking different routes breaks the monotony of exercising in one spot.

Do you have a wellness journey you’d like to share? Your story can be about weight loss, overcoming an illness, maintaining good health habits or some other health-related topic. Just send an email to

May/June Obituaries

AEP Energy Services

Gary Hilton, 66, Bammell Field Team Office, died May 22.

AEP River Operations

Raphield Warren Jr., 53, Elmwood Convent Fleet & Repair, died June 17.

AEP Service Corporation

Erlin Chambers, 86, retired, John E. Dolan Laboratory, died June 9.

Carole Grimes, 71, AEP Headquarters, died June 20.

David Ware, 71, retired, CSW Aviation, died June 25.

Appalachian Power

Virginia Bright, 94, retired, Roanoke Main Office, died June 23.

Bill Ferguson, 81, retired, Charleston Office, died June 19.

Robert King, 85, retired, Huntington Office, died June 21.

Donald Roush, 84, retired, Mountaineer Plant, died May 28.

Cecil Shay, 92, retired, Amos Plant, died June 21.

Lester Toler, 99, retired, Logan Service Center, died June 13.

Columbus Southern Power

Ramon Bullock, 79, retired, Picway Plant, died June 18.

Robert Lenhart, 89, retired, Coshocton Office Building, died June 13.

John Turner, 84, retired, 850 Tech Center, died June 14.

Indiana Michigan Power

Merl Smith, 92, retired, Marion Office, died June 20.

Harry Upton, 87, retired, Spy Run Service Center, died June 15.

Ohio Power

Melray Aldrich, 88, retired, Lima Service Center, died May 27.

John Bolinger, 89, retired, Muskingum River Plant, died June 8.

John Cich, 78, retired, Steubenville Office, died June 12.

Ronald Claypool, 82, retired, Zanesville Office, died June 10.

Victoria Kollar, 92, retired, Canton Eastern Regional Office, died June 20.

William Langdon, 88, retired, Zanesville Office, died May 24.

Dale Lothes, 86, retired, Muskingum River Plant, died June 12.

Gerald Morrison, 77, retired, Muskingum River Plant, died June 11.

Walter Sexton Jr., 77, Lancaster Office Building, died May 28.

Jack Spencer, 75, retired, Canton General Service Center, died June 2.

Public Service Company of Oklahoma

Glenn Bryson, 90, retired, Tulsa General Office, died June 20.

Howard Davis, 92, retired, Tulsa General Office, died June 7.

Juna Horn, 82, retired, Tulsa General Office, died June 23.

Louis Tilidetzke, 59, Chouteau Service Center, died June 8.

Southwestern Electric Power

Roy Douglas Hilton, 60, Hornbeck Service Center, died June 12.

Frank Hodnett, 82, retired, Shreveport General Office, died June 20.

Harry Lancaster, 84, retired, Shreveport General Office, died May 31.

Raymond Robertson, 98, retired, Shreveport General Office, died June 18.

Texas Central

Calvin Bast, 86, retired, Corpus Christi Office, died June 24.

George Garst, 81, retired, Corpus Christi Office, died June 16.

Frank Yates, 87, retired, Corpus Christi Office, died May 30.

June Retirements

AEP Ohio

Richard Boucher Jr., Lancaster Service Building, retired June 1 after 32 years of service.

Cora Ross, Cambridge Service Center, retired June 1 after 25 years of service.

Roderick Stefano, Wooster Service Center, retired June 1 after 40 years of service.

AEP River Operations

Daniel Ballard, AEP River Operations-Paducah, retired June 27 after 16 years of service.

AEP Service Corporation

Dean Berry, AEP Headquarters, retired June 13 after 38 years of service.

David Hagelin, AEP Headquarters, retired June 1 after 24 years of service.

AEP Texas

Gilberto Camacho Jr., Zapata Business Office, retired June 28 after 36 years of service.

AEP Utility Operations

Joseph Burek, Mitchell Plant, retired June 13 after 29 years of service.

Michael Criner, Amos Plant, retired June 23 after 40 years of service.

Robert Davis Jr., Kammer Plant, retired June 6 after 34 years of service.

Donald Johnson, Welsh Plant, retired June 1 after 11 years of service.

Ralph Kelvington, Mountaineer Plant, retired June 1 after 34 years of service.

Mark Lester, Cook Nuclear Plant, retired June 3 after 33 years of service.

Brenda Maksimovic, AEP Headquarters, retired June 1 after 32 years of service.

Mary Malone, Central Operations Center, retired June 1 after 19 years of service.

Ralph Ohlinger, Gavin Plant, retired June 1 after 30 years of service.

Freddy Sisk, Amos Plant, retired June 1 after 36 years of service.

Larry Smead, Cook Nuclear Plant, retired June 24 after 21 years of service.

Beverly Smith, Tulsa General Office, retired June 14 after 16 years of service.

Jake Walker, Pirkey Plant, retired June 14 after 30 years of service.

Appalachian Power

Gary Workman, Wheeling Service Center, retired June 1 after 37 years of service.

Indiana Michigan Power

Guy Troxell, St. Joseph Service Center, retired June 5 after 19 years of service.

Penny Wallace, Spy Run Service Center, retired June 1 after 34 years of service.

Policy, Finance and Strategic Planning

Brad Klute, AEP Headquarters, retired June 7 after 28 years of service.

Darryl Lynch, AEP Headquarters, retired June 7 after 21 years of service.

Public Service Company of Oklahoma

Linda Riddle, Oklahoma City State Affairs, retired June 28 after 21 years of service.

Shared Services

Shane Canterbury, North Charleston Service Center, retired June 1 after 34 years of service.

Southwestern Electric Power Company

Gary Lemons, Wellington Office, retired June 21 after 29 years of service.


Gary Cline, Energy Control Center, retired June 1 after 37 years of service.

Carl Persing, John W. Vaughan Center, retired June 1 after 34 years of service.

Henry Roman, Uvalde Service Center, retired June 3 after 32 years of service.

Vets get close-up view of careers offered by AEP Transmission, Distribution

Scott Smith (right), senior vice president-AEP Transmission and a former Army combat engineer.addresses military veterans during the recent open house event. Looking on at left is Lisa Barton, AEP executive vice president-Transmission.

(Story by Stephen Ostrander)

Military veterans got a close-up view of the daily activities of AEP linemen, station technicians and other employees during an open house at the A. Ray King Transmission Training Center in Pataskala, Ohio, June 27.

Lisa Barton, executive vice president – AEP Transmission, greeted the former servicemen and encouraged them to pursue careers in the electric utility industry.

“Your skills, leadership, discipline and pursuit of excellence match up well with the careers we offer at AEP,” said Barton.

The event, co-sponsored by the AEP Military Employee Resource Group and AEP Distribution, was more of an orientation about the types of careers available at AEP than a recruitment rush.

“We’re a big company, spread out across the country, with jobs available in every category of work,” said Scott Smith, senior vice president – AEP Transmission and a former Army combat engineer. “The pride you had serving your country, whatever uniform you wore, you’ll find that here at AEP.”

Two groups of veterans took turns visiting the training center’s mock substation, drop-in control module and outdoors facilities.

While outdoors, an AEP Transmission crew showed veterans how they worked on extra-high voltage lines atop a 150-foot crane, and AEP Distribution line mechanics demonstrated operation of a bucket truck.

Todd Patterson (left), an engineering technologist for AEP Transmission, explains the workings of a substation to military veterans.

“In the military, these people showed that they could be trained to use high technology equipment,” said Smith. “They have the aptitude to take on these jobs; and they aren’t intimidated by technology.”

Military veterans bring several key assets to the workplace, such as:

  • Teamwork
  • Reliability, responsiveness
  • Respect for procedures
  • Ability to work safely under duress, and around dangerous equipment.

AEP Transmission leaders, along with selected AEP military veterans, encouraged veterans to actively seek AEP jobs that match their skills. The common messages among the speakers? AEP Transmission and AEP Distribution have jobs; veterans should apply.

AEP employees ride to beat cancer

The 2012 AEP Energizers for a Cure peloton unites in defiance of cancer.

(Story by Barry Schumann)

More than 40 AEP employees from across Ohio have exactly one month left to prepare for their ride to end cancer. They invite colleagues, friends and family to join them or support their efforts to fund cancer research through Pelotonia 2014.

“For those people who need it (a cure), Pelotonia is pretty important,” said cancer survivor Penny Dornette, IT systems analyst.

Pelotonia is a grassroots bike tour in Ohio with one goal: to end cancer. The August ride for cyclists of all ages and skill levels has raised more than $61 million for cancer research over five years, including $460,000 raised by the AEP Energizers for a Cure peloton. Every dollar raised goes to fund essential, life-saving research at The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center – James Cancer Hospital and Solove Research Institute.

“Organizations like Pelotonia are critical to finding cures,” said John Huneck, managing director, Strategic Initiatives. “Cures take plenty of research and research is expensive.”

“…(I)t’s those strides in research they are making that will hopefully one day eradicate this disease,” added survivor Carole Myser, manager, Transmission Settlements.

Through the years, the AEP peloton has included employees from Indiana, Kentucky and Ohio, family and friends from as far away as Wyoming, and even a business associate hailing from Sweden. Donations have come from employees throughout the System.

“It’s a peloton, it’s a group effort…6,000-plus riders with one goal: that’s to end cancer,” said Ed Schnell, director, Transmission Dispatching, and a Community Champ for the AEP peloton.

Members of the AEP peloton encourage AEP employees to join the effort to conquer cancer in whatever manner best suits them.“Pelotonia offers an array of opportunities for people to participate,” said Julie Sloat, senior vice president and treasurer and an Executive Champ for the AEP peloton. Individuals can join the AEP peloton, make a donation on behalf of a rider or of the AEP peloton, or volunteer with the Pelotonia organization to help make the event a success for all riders.

All AEP peloton riders will receive a newly designed AEP cycling jersey. AEP virtual riders — those who are unable to ride but commit to raise at least $150 — will have the option of receiving a “classic” jersey from available AEP and Pelotonia designs and sizes on a first-come, first-served basis.

Employees can visit the Pelotonia and AEP Energizers for a Cure websites to learn more about the event, register as a rider or virtual rider, volunteer, or make a donation. Employees who register should contact AEP peloton captain and Community Champ Nathan Long, Muskingum River Plant manager, to be added to the AEP peloton.

“If you can ride, great! If you can volunteer, great! If you can contribute, great! If you can be out there cheering and just be a part of it, great!“ said Schnell. “It’s really something you’ll never forget.”

The ride Aug. 9-10 departs from central Ohio and extends 25-to-180 miles over one or two days depending on the rider’s choice. The AEP Foundation is a sponsor of the event.

“It’s a win-win-win; there’s no downside,” said Mark McCullough, executive vice president, Generation, and an Executive Champ of the AEP peloton. “Millions and millions of dollars are raised.”


AEP’s DeVendra to be featured on WOSU TV’s ‘Broad and High’ program

One good (wood) turn deserves another…and another…and another.

Dennis DeVendra, a manager in IT applications at AEP Headquarters in Columbus, Ohio, began turning wood 10 years ago as a hobby. Recently, he was interviewed by WOSU TV for an arts and culture show called “Broad and High.” His segment will be broadcast July 2 at 7:30 p.m.

Dennis DeVendra began turning wood 10 years ago as a hobby.

All this might be considered somewhat unremarkable, except that DeVendra is blind.

A 16-year veteran at AEP, DeVendra knew he was going blind when he was 21 years old and a student at The Ohio State University. The diagnosis was retinitis pigmentosa, a genetic eye disease. He stopped driving when he was 27. He started woodworking before he lost his sight, first building a clock from a kit.

“In 2004, I visited a local woodworking shop. They had lathes for sale. The owner of the shop worked with me to try woodturning,” he explained. “From there, it did not take long for me to move from woodworking to woodturning exclusively. Although cutting boards was a lot of fun, I found a greater satisfaction in the creativity of woodturning.

“When I started woodturning, I needed to create adaptations to accommodate my blindness,” he added. “I did not have many role models, so many of the adaptive techniques were trial and error.”

DeVendra now offers his works through his website at

How did he get involved with Broad and High?

“I am a regular watcher of WOSU TV,” he said. “I noticed that a new program about local art and culture in Columbus and central Ohio was being broadcast Wednesday evenings. I looked up their information online and sent a tweet to see if there was any interest in featuring my works. They responded within a day or so. On May 2, the crew showed up to my home and spent about four hours interviewing me and taking video.

“I am a regular at the fall AEP Craft and Collectible show put on by Operation Feed,” he added. “I also have contributed several pieces to AEP charity auctions and special events. Two of my bowls have been auctioned off for breast cancer auctions.

Dennis DeVendra has created a number of beautiful wood pieces over the years.

“I get many special requests for items from my co-workers and others,” he continued. “A couple years ago, a co-worker here at AEP asked me to make him a cane. The co-worker is a military vet who walks with the assistance of a walking cane.”

DeVendra also participates in an OSU program that connects mentors to students who have disabilities and are interested in science, technology, engineering, and math, known collectively as STEM. According to Ohio State, students with disabilities are sometimes steered away from high-tech careers by teachers and parents who want to protect them.

“My role in mentoring is to help the students figure out how to form strategies that will overcome those challenges,” he said.

Prior to joining AEP, he was a director at Recording for the Blind and Dyslexic in New Jersey, and developer and systems analyst at IBM.

“Recently, I have combined my accomplishments of overcoming challenges in both my work and woodturning with motivational speaking,” he said. “If I can do it, others may be motivated to overcome challenges to find their dreams no matter the obstacles.”

AEP Employee and Retiree Trail Ride scheduled for August

The annual AEP Employee and Retiree Trail Ride features approximately 30 miles of trails available to riders at AEP ReCreation Land Equine Activity Area.

(Story by Jeff Rennie)

McCONNELSVILLE, Ohio — AEP employees and retirees are invited to join in a unique outdoor experience.

The 17th annual AEP Employee and Retiree Trail Ride at AEP’s ReCreation Land Equine Activity Area will take place Aug. 9 and 10 at the site located about seven miles north of McConnelsville, at 3400 East State Route 78. Participants must bring their own horse.

The ride kicks off at 10 a.m. on Saturday, Aug. 9. Riders should pack a trail lunch. A potluck dinner is scheduled Saturday night with meat for grilling provided by AEP.

Anne Lindimore, administrative associate at the Muskingum River Plant, coordinates the outing.

“Save the weekend of August 9 for a good time with great people,” said Lindimore. “Hope to see you here!”

Approximately 30 miles of trails are available to riders. Many are well shaded and hilly with shallow creek crossings, said Lindimore. The trails were developed and are maintained in a partnership between AEP and the Ohio Horseman’s Council. Guides are available on Saturday and Sunday.

Free camping, firewood and horse water is provided. No electricity is available at the campsite, but there are Port-O-Lets and the area has tie lines and picnic tables. The trailhead staging area can accommodate 100 horse trailers.

A permit is required to use the Equine Activity Area, which is open to the public, and is available free online at

For more information, contact Lindimore at (direct dial, work) 740-984-3487, or

AEP Texas employees honored with Customer Service awards for efforts in the Eagle Ford Shale development

(Story by Omar Lopez)

Four AEP Texas employees were recently recognized with Customer Service awards by Bradley Lenz, director, Economic and Business Development, and Wade Smith, AEP Texas president and chief operating officer. Julio Reyes, vice president of External Affairs, also attended the ceremony.

Four employees were recently honored with Customer Service awards. Shown here (left to right) are: Ken Griffin, Patrick King, Bob Lager and Ricky Miller. Looking on at right is Bradley Lenz, director, Economic and Business Development..

Ken Griffin, external affairs manager, and Patrick King, customer services senior account manager, both from the Corpus Christi District; and Ricky Miller, customer services account manager, and Bob Lager, senior engineer, both of the Abilene District, were commended for their work with Energy Transfer Partners, L.P., one of the company’s customers in the Eagle Ford Shale development.

With the help of the AEP Texas team, Energy Transfer, L.P., was able to complete the construction of the 570-mile Lone Star West Texas Gateway NGL Pipeline that serves the Permian Basin area and the Eagle Ford Shale area. The pipeline moves through the AEP Texas service territory.


PSO, food banks to ‘Shine A Light’ on neighbors in need

(Story by Ed Bettinger)

TULSA — Although Oklahoma’s economy has improved and the job count is growing, many Oklahomans struggle each day to feed their families. Oklahoma ranks among the top five states in the nation in the number of people who are hungry. More than 675,000 Oklahomans wake each day wondering where their next meal will come from. More than 40 percent of Oklahomans who rely on food pantries for basic groceries report they regularly have to choose between paying their utility bills and feeding their families.


Although there is no single solution to fix this problem, Public Service Company of Oklahoma (PSO) Consumer Programs has developed the “Shine A Light” project to help brighten the lives of those in need. It can also save you some money and energy.

The focus of the Shine A Light Project is to help Oklahoma families who are served by food pantries avoid having to choose between paying their utility bills and putting food on the table.

“We want to help, so we developed our Shine A Light Project in partnership with the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma and the Community Food Bank of Eastern Oklahoma to help families who need to stretch their household budget,” said Dawn Casey, PSO Energy Efficiency & Consumer Programs coordinator.

How Shine A Light Works

For each PSO-discounted CFL or LED light purchased at a participating Shine A Light retailer through June, PSO will donate the same item to its food bank partners – up to 75,000 bulbs – to help the families save energy. Those savings can then be applied to other purposes, including the food bill.

The high-efficiency lights will be distributed to food pantry customers. The Community Food Bank of Eastern Oklahoma will distribute the lights to 122 food pantries within PSO’s service territory, who will then distribute to their customers and agencies like John 3:16 Family Ministry, Neighbor for Neighbor, First Baptist Church and Hospice of Green Country.

The Regional Food Bank will distribute to 37 food pantries within PSO’s service territory, who will then distribute to their customers, like the Lawton Food Bank, First Baptist Church of Chickasha, Duncan Rescue Mission, etc.

To support this effort and receive a discount on the purchase of long-lasting, energy-efficient lights, employees can visit one of PSO’s participating retailers, such as Lowe’s, Walmart, Home Depot or Dollar Tree, and look for lights with the PSO “Savings that Shine” sticker. The discount will be rung up at the cash register when you check out.

The PSO discounts range from $1 to $7 per bulb, depending on the type purchased.

For a limited time, select LEDs are priced at around $6 at Home Depot.

Go to to find a participating retailer near you.

ENERGY STAR®-certified CFLs use 75 percent less energy than incandescent bulbs, saving you $40 to $135 in energy bills. They also last 10 to 25 times longer than incandescent bulbs.

The ENERGY STAR®-certified CFLS also provide the same brightness (lumens) with less energy (watts).

About the Community Food Banks

The Community Food Bank of Eastern Oklahoma is the largest private hunger-relief organization in the eastern part of the state, providing more than 275,000 meals each week through 450 partner programs in 24 counties. In 2013, the organization distributed more than 17.1 million pounds of food.

The Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma is the largest private hunger-relief organization in the state. In 2013, it distributed 47.9 million pounds of food and product through its network of more than 1,000 partner agencies and schools throughout 53 central and western Oklahoma counties. Through the Regional Food Bank more than 90,000 people are fed each week – one-third of whom are children.



Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 794 other followers