|The Electric Universe is an educational website targeted toward students and teachers of grades K-12 and includes information on electricity, electrical safety, generation/ transmission/ distribution, energy and energy careers.
(Story by Barry Schumann)
Louie the Lightning Bug, the Power Bandit and Professor See are getting updated Internet spaces on the new AEP Electric Universe®.
The Electric Universe is an educational website developed and maintained by Moore Syndication — best known as creator of Louie the Lightning Bug, safety spokesbug for AEP operating companies and other electric utilities. Louie features prominently on the website, particularly in the Louie’s Space section on electrical safety including a safety pledge and printable certificate of completion.
The site has sections targeted toward students and teachers of grades kindergarten through 12, and includes information on electricity, electrical safety, generation, transmission, distribution, energy and energy careers.
The site also features online games, videos, downloadable activities for students, lesson plans, experiments, a reference section and glossary for educators and other adults interested in teaching kids about electricity and electrical safety.
The Power Plus section covers general and home electrical safety for adults.
The updated Electric Universe site has these benefits compared to the previous site, which was last upgraded in late 2011:
- Modern, new graphic look
- One-page scrolling
- New animation
- Simplified, easier organization
- New search engine
- Condensed content
- Educational Resources tab (available after opening any section) with links to the AEP.com For Teachers and Students webpage and to each AEP operating company and AEP River Operations website.
AEP employees and contractors are encouraged to check out the updated website with their children or grandchildren, and to share the Electric Universe URL – aep.electricuniverse.com – with teachers and other adults who educate youngsters about electricity and electrical safety.
A message from Nick Akins, AEP chairman, president and chief executive officer:
Bringing comfort to our customers, supporting business and commerce, and building strong communities is not a mission that AEP takes lightly.
As you know, legislative and regulatory issues across the country undoubtedly will have an impact on our industry’s ability to provide customers with reliable, affordable and increasingly clean electricity. It’s important that leaders in Washington and in our state capitals fully recognize the role of a strong electric power industry in powering America forward. They also must understand that decisions they make affect not only our industry, but also the communities and customers we serve.
That’s why AEP has joined a national initiative called We Stand For Energy. This online community unites employees, retirees, stakeholders and consumers to tell the story of how electricity powers our lifestyle, our communities, our economy and life’s possibilities.
We Stand For Energy is about smart energy solutions. This online community will work to ensure the nation’s energy policies:
- Create jobs;
- Strengthen local communities and economies;
- Spur development of innovative technologies;
- Help us meet the demand for electricity through a diverse supply of domestic energy sources; and
- Provide a secure energy future for all Americans.
Please support this effort by joining We Stand For Energy today. Simply go to www.WeStandForEnergy.com/AmericanElectricPower to sign up. Once you have joined, you can visit www.WeStandForEnergy.com at any time to learn and share information about the value and role of electricity. From time-to-time, you will be invited to participate in other ways, such as joining social media conversations, taking part in We Stand For Energy events or sharing our critical messages.
AEP and our industry are leading the charge to power unlimited possibilities. I hope you’ll join me and take a stand for policies that support a bright energy future for our customers, our company and our country.
(Story by Stephen J. Ostrander)
PA-36-7 seems to have the cat’s luck of nine lives. A survivor of some of World War II’s fiercest battles in the Pacific, the historic landing craft is getting yet a new life and purpose, thanks to two AEP retirees and devotees of history who volunteered to get the craft shipshape for its next voyage.
Sometime this summer PA-36-7 will arrive safely on a new “beachhead,” a concrete pad at Mott’s Military Museum in Groveport, Ohio, near Columbus. It will be the shortest and softest trip in the landing craft’s history, and, as a museum artifact, its easiest duty. The overland journey also removes it from the right-of-way of an AEP transmission line.
“It’s got a story to tell,” explained Roger Dyer, who retired from AEP Corporate Communications in 2006. “There are fewer World War II veterans each day and just a few landing craft left. That’s why the restoration work needs to be done.”
Jim Michalec retired as staff engineer from AEP in 2010 after 39 years and is one of the nation’s experts in large motors and generators. At the restoration site, he operates a hand-held motor powering a circular saw.
The awkward box-shaped boat being restored by Michalec and Dyer is a surviving “landing craft, vehicle, personnel” (LCVP) in the United States. The Navy produced 23,000 so-called “Higgins boats” during WW II to deliver marines, soldiers, supplies and jeeps to beaches in the Pacific, Mediterranean and Normandy, France, site of the largest allied invasion — which celebrated its 70th anniversary June 6. Fewer than 10 of the boats that saw action during World War II are known to exist in the United States.
A cat’s life
A stairway that leads museum-goers to a platform for peering into the craft lists the Pacific islands where American and Japanese armed forces fought gruesome battles: Marshall Island, Saipan, Tinian, Leyte Gulf, Luzon, New Guinea and Okinawa. Sam Belfiore, a Silver Star Navy coxswain, piloted the low-draft 36-foot craft during the war. It was powered by a 225-horsepower engine and discharged its cargo by dropping its front-loading steel ramp. No longer useful after the war, the Navy scrapped the mostly cypress-plywood LCVPs by torching or sinking them.
Belfiore somehow saved PA-36-7 from the post-war scrap heap by shipping it from the U.S. naval base in San Diego to Lockbourne (now Rickenbacker) Air Base south of Columbus, his hometown and residence. During the Cold War, PA-36-7 was parked outside the U.S. Navy Reserve building at Rickenbacker. From time to time, it got a coat of paint and a few salutes.
In the late 1990s, downsizing at Rickenbacker forced relocation of the Navy office and a new voyage for PA-36-7. Warren Mott, a former Army and AEP photographer and founder of the nonprofit military museum, had long sought the landing craft for his collection of military memorabilia. At first, a group in Dayton took possession of the LCVP, promising to restore it. However, the new owners lost interest, so the historic treasure was beached in Worthington, north of Columbus, and left to rot. Belfiore eventually rescued his beloved boat again, this time by informing Mott of its availability. Mott jumped at the opportunity to acquire the rarity. The LCVP travelled some 30 miles to the museum aboard a flatbed trailer in 2000 and then was lifted into place by crane. Later, Mott and Belfiore organized a reunion of surviving WW II veterans who had a “history” with the landing craft.
Roped into service
Dyer got involved in the restoration in a roundabout way. His golf partner mentioned that Mott was seeking volunteers to restore a replica of the home of U.S. military flying ace Eddie Rickenbacker, the Columbus aviation hero and namesake of the airbase, on the museum’s grounds. Dyer recommended Michalec, an ace woodworker. Besides their AEP connection, Dyer, Michalec and Mott belong to Honor Flight, an organization that has paid for 3,200 Central Ohio World War II and Korean War veterans to visit the historical monuments in Washington, D.C.
“I have always been interested in history, especially military history,” said Dyer, who formerly wrote historical articles for Franklin Mint, the maker of commemorative coins. “I have a great appreciation for the people who serve in the military.”
Returning the favor, Michalec “roped” (Dyer’s word) his friend to the museum to restore the LCVP. What Dyer thought would be a few weeks of work has become an effort spanning several months. The boat’s poor condition and last winter’s nasty weather slowed restoration. Lacking original building plans, they taped together the boat’s rotted wood timbers to make a template for fashioning replacement parts.
Working around historical artifacts is sometimes solemn and ghostly. Seventy years ago, on June 15, 36 marines huddled in the bay of PA-36-7. Each privately reconciled with his terror, and awaited the order to charge when the ramp splashed into the drink. They raced toward the already crimson-stained beach at Saipan, a forsaken island in the Mariana chain. They would rather get tanned on Saipan beach, than shot. Cold waves soaked boots and uniforms, salt water slapped faces, then roars, screams, orders, chaos. Sam Belfiore would return PA-36-7 to an awaiting ship and then convey another platoon to shore.
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.”
|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.
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 email@example.com.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
|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:
- 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.
|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.”
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 www.blindwoodturner.com.
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.”