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Grid Assurance™ speeds grid comeback, addresses resiliency mandates

(Story by Stephen Ostrander)

AEP and seven other companies today announced formation of a company that will hasten responses to major events that damage the electricity grid by providing transmission-owning subscribers faster access to domestically stored vital equipment.

Joining AEP in signing a memorandum of understanding to create Grid Assurance™ are affiliates of Berkshire Hathaway Energy, Duke Energy, Edison International, Exelon, Eversource Energy, Great Plains Energy and Southern Company.  Grid Assurance filed a petition (declaratory order) with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) June 9 seeking confirmation that the new company can be part of a utility strategy to effectively address grid resiliency mandates.

Grid Assurance will own and provide subscribing utilities access to a domestic inventory of vital spare transmission equipment, such as transformers and circuit breakers for substations, whose replacement requires lengthy lead-times.

Grid Assurance, a limited liability company, will offer subscribers a cost-effective solution for responding to prolonged transmission outages after events such as natural disasters, terrorist or criminal attacks, cyberattacks or geomagnetic and solar storms.

“The electric power industry takes very seriously its responsibility to provide a safe, reliable and affordable electricity supply,” said Scott Moore, vice president of Transmission Engineering and Project Services who serves as executive sponsor of Grid Assurance. “This is a great example of our industry’s continued commitment to work together with governmental agencies to enhance the resiliency of its critical infrastructure.”

Benefits of Grid Assurance

Grid Assurance will own and provide subscribing utilities access to a domestic inventory of vital spare transmission equipment, such as transformers and circuit breakers for substations, whose replacement requires lengthy lead-times. For example, the typical lead-time for production and delivery of a large transformer is five to 16 months,* partly due to its probable manufacture overseas and transportation issues. In 2010, about 85 percent of the nation’s demand for power transformers (60 MVA and above) was met by foreign producers.**

To speed delivery to subscribers the company will store and maintain its inventory of spares in strategically located domestic warehouses and provide logistical and transportation services. Compared to “going it alone,” Grid Assurance subscribers will enjoy lower-cost grid recoveries because of faster access to critical equipment, economies of scale, increased buying power, and long-term relationships with vendors.

Grid Assurance will expand the existing inventory of spare equipment in the U.S. In April, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) reported, “Key industry sources have identified the limited availability of spare LPTs (large power transformers) as a potential issue for critical infrastructure resilience in the United States.”*

Assuring grid resiliency

Grid Assurance addresses vulnerabilities in the nation’s grid emphasized in the recent DOE report.* The DOE called transmission transformers one of the grid’s “most vulnerable components.” Current grid protections, the report added, “….may not be adequate to address the security and reliability concerns associated with simultaneous failures of multiple high-voltage transformers.”

Grid Assurance services will complement the Edison Electric Institute’s existing Spare Transformer Equipment Program (STEP), which provides utilities transformers of limited voltages after a presidential declaration of a national emergency caused by terrorism. Beyond that, Grid Assurance will offer subscribers equipment (transformers, circuit breakers and other items) from an inventory matching their needs after a broader spectrum of qualifying events.

Overcoming hurdles

Grid Assurance’s action at FERC addresses potential regulatory uncertainties that could be an impediment to prospective utility subscribers. In its declaratory order, Grid Assurance asked the federal regulatory body to acknowledge that its service is “a permissible element of a mandatory physical security plan” required by the North American Electric Reliability Corporation, specifically reliability standard CIP-014-1.***  Grid Assurance asked FERC to act on its petition within 60 days.

Subscription is available to any transmission owner or transmission developer in the United States, including investor-owned utilities, government-owned utilities, rural electric cooperatives and merchant transmission companies.

Contingent on regulatory approvals, Grid Assurance anticipates accepting subscribers and identifying inventory in 2016.

Did you know?

Weather-related outages cost the U.S. economy an estimated $20 billion to $55 billion annually.*

A report by Lloyds of London estimates that a large geomagnetic disturbance event could cost more than $2 trillion and lead to disruptions lasting up to two years.**


* U.S. Department of Energy, Quadrennial Energy Review: Energy Transmission, Storage,
and Distribution Infrastructure, April 2015. References of this report that appear in the text also can be found in the Grid Assurance declaratory order.

**Grid Assurance Petition for Declaratory filed at FERC on June 10, 2015

***NERC Reliability Standard CIP-014-1 requires utilities to enhance physical security measures for the most critical bulk-power system facilities and lessen the overall vulnerability of the system against physical attacks. The standard becomes effective October 1.

Glen Lyn Plant: A history of service

Brad Jones, plant manager at Glen Lyn Plant, has worked at the facility for 21 years.

(Story by Ken Drenten and John Shepelwich)

GLEN LYN, Va. – The employees of Glen Lyn Plant, located in the Blue Ridge Mountains along the New River near the border between Virginia and West Virginia, have delivered generations of reliable electricity and service to the region.

This year’s closing of the plant brings an end to not only AEP’s oldest and smallest operating unit – Glen Lyn Unit 5, a 95-megawatt unit in operation since 1944 – but to an era extending for nearly 100 years in southwestern Virginia.

The plant, once owned by the Appalachian Power Company – an identically named but different company from today’s Appalachian Power – has been generating electricity since July 1919. At that time, a single 15-megawatt unit went online, supplying electricity to the coal mining industry and small towns in the area. The original owners of Glen Lyn Plant also operated Buck and Byllesby hydro units on the New River, both of which started operation in 1912.

Glen Lyn’s Units 2 and 3, rated at 20 MW each, came online in September 1920 and February 1924, respectively. American Gas & Electric Co. (the name by which AEP was known until 1958) acquired the plant in 1925, and 25-MW Unit 4 entered service in May 1927.

These four units continued to operate together until 1954, when Unit 1 was retired. In 1957, Units 2, 3, and 4 were placed in “cold storage” for potential future use, and Units 3 and 4 were reactivated from 1966 to 1971. The four original turbines and all 13 original boilers were retired in 1971.

Facts about Glen Lyn Plant

  • Units 5 & 6 (335 MW) capable of net annual generation of more than 1,500,000 megawatthours

  • Plant annual payroll $2.7 million in 2014

  • Local property tax payments about $578,000

View a local television news report on the closing of Glen Lyn Plant.

The two Glen Lyn units now being retired are Units 5 and 6. Unit 5, a 95-MW unit, entered service in May 1944 and has been the oldest and smallest coal-fired unit on the AEP system. At the time it began operation, it was the largest coal-fired unit in the southeastern United States. The unit set what was then a system record by running for 27 continuous months, from Dec. 12, 1946, to March 30, 1949.

Unit 6 entered service in May 1957, producing 240 MW, more than the five previous units combined. In 1956, prior to entering service, Unit 6 produced an industry first with the first use of a single turbine-driven boiler feed pump integrated into the thermodynamic cycle.

On April 7, 2015, the coal pile for Unit 6 was finally exhausted, and the unit was shut down. Unit 5 was brought online briefly this spring to burn about 1,500 tons of coal dumped into its bunkers but not used last winter. Only a few years ago, when both units ran on a regular basis, the plant consumed 600,000 to 700,000 tons of coal annually, according to Henry Parker, production supervisor.

Plant has played major role in lives of employees, communities

Plant Manager Brad Jones, who arrived at Glen Lyn in 1994 as assistant plant manager from Breed Plant in Indiana, said Glen Lyn has played a major role in the community in terms of social and economic impact.

“This plant has provided employment to multiple generations of families and has touched the lives of nearly everyone in the local communities in some fashion or another,” Jones said. “I have 663 names on my list of present and past employees.”

Jones added that people have been the best part of his experience at Glen Lyn. “The part I will miss the most will be that I’ll no longer see most of the people I have worked with over the last 21 years,” he said. “I am proud of the fact that we accomplished the last five years of winding down plant operations with a good safety record, and that we met the needs of our customers by being available and on line when our generation was needed.” He has also enjoyed the history of the plant and involvement in the local communities.

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Glen Lyn Plant is the focal point of the village of Glen Lyn, and of Giles County. When the plant was originally built from 1917 to 1919, it boosted the town’s population from 50 to 400. Although many of the plant’s employees have commuted to the plant to work from nearby towns, historically many plant employees have served in the community as elected officials, firefighters, and in many community activities.

“The loss of the plant will have a significant effect on the local tax base as well as losing the incomes of employees who shopped locally,” Jones said. “Most people in the community are sad to see the plant close, and have expressed that feeling to those of us who are working here.”

The plant is connected to the nation’s two world wars. Construction originally began in 1917, when the country was involved in World War I. Prior to the installation of Unit 5 during World War II in 1944, the unit’s design was ordered to be changed significantly by the War Production Board to save the use of large machine tools and space in the turbine manufacturer’s shop, and to save critical materials needed for the war effort.

In the plant’s very early years, nearly all of its auxiliary equipment was run by steam. That meant if the power went out, workers had to use lanterns to read gauges in the powerhouse. Then they would rap loudly on the pipes to communicate to workers elsewhere — two raps meant more water, one rap meant to stop.

Glen Lyn’s first two units were built without the use of welds – all the joints were flanged. It was not until 1924, when Unit 3 was under construction, that welding was first used.

Glen Lyn employees, retirees gather for one last time together

The 30-plus remaining employees of Glen Lyn gathered one last time for lunch in the plant meeting hall May 19. It was probably the last time they will be together as a work team with the plant’s official planned retirement approaching on May 31 and fellow workers beginning to move to new jobs or retirement. “We just thought it would be a good idea to gather all of the employees together as a team one last time without an additional crowd,” said Jones.

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Long-time Glen Lyn plant employee Mark Repass was asked to offer up the blessing before the meal.

“Lord, the time you gave us here was short,” he prayed. “But it was good.”

That was followed with a number of quiet “amens” and was the overriding theme of most of the employees as they begin to transfer to new jobs or more time at home. A large number of the remaining plant employees have been at Glen Lyn for more than 30 years.

Welder Ricky Miller has been there almost 38 years and said fellow workers are just like family. “Everybody was always out to help each other, but we also enjoyed playing practical jokes,” he said.

The plant and the job became part of his life which will change as he takes early retirement. “You get up every morning and come to Glen Lyn. You don’t know what time you’re getting home. But when you do, you get something to eat and you go to bed. Then you get up and come to Glen Lyn. Now (after retirement), I’m just going to get up.”

There was one more gathering at the plant before its official retirement when retirees mingled with active employees and toured the century-old facility for a last time on May 26. Between 1919 and 2015, almost 700 people were employed at Glen Lyn. About 50 of those who worked in the past were able to attend.

Many guests at the retiree gathering, like Duard Garrison, took one last walk through the plant. He looked over areas that took up much of his working days as a welder and maintenance supervisor. Garrison paid particular attention to the feed pumps that were integral to the operation of the now-quiet Unit 5. He retired in 1989 after 38 years at the plant, and his father-in-law also worked at Glen Lyn.

Others spent time slapping old friends on the back and reminiscing about days gone by.

Fairley Long began working at the plant while still a student at West Virginia University in 1963 and came on fulltime in 1966 after graduation. He retired in 2003 as operations superintendent. While the newest generating unit (Unit 6) was installed almost a decade before his fulltime job, Long saw and oversaw a lot of change and transition at Glen Lyn.

“On the technical side, things were constantly changing at the plant,” Long said. “We were generating more efficiently, taking care of environmental issues and working smarter. In the control rooms, we had essentially mechanical recording devices when I started, added analog controls a short time later, and were transitioning to a digital system when I retired.”

He observed that some things did not change. “All of the employees during all of those years were friends and team members on the job. We had to work that way or it wouldn’t have been a safe place. That never changed,” he said.

Glen Lyn has unique connection to movie, engineering book

Glen Lyn Plant has a unique connection to a Hollywood movie and to a book produced by The Ohio State University College of Engineering.

This book details an extensive test of Glen Lyn Plant’s systems that took place in late 1921.

“A Beautiful Mind,” starring Russell Crowe, won the Oscar for Best Picture for 2001. The movie focused on the life of the late John F. Nash Jr., a brilliant mathematician who shared the 1994 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences. His father, John F. Nash Sr., was an electrical engineer for Appalachian Power.

Nash Sr. was cited for his assistance with the 1922 book, “Test of Glenlyn (sic) Generation Station,” by E.H. Hitchcock, dean of the College of Engineering at The Ohio State University, who investigated operating efficiencies at the new plant and produced the book-length detailed report. Several of the photos from the book are included in a slideshow with this article.

“The plant as a whole impresses you with its simplicity, with the ease of accessibility of equipment, the excellent lighting and the ample space for apparatus,” wrote Hitchcock. “During the writer’s experience in plant investigation work covering a period of over 25 years, he has never experienced so much satisfaction in the work due to cleanliness and accessibility.”

Ohio State’s College of Engineering is now housed within Hitchcock Hall, named for the author of the Glen Lyn report. Employees at the plant discovered an original copy of the book and plan to donate the book to the college.

Editor’s Note: Thank you to Dan Duellman, Sarah Hunyadi, Brad Jones and Walt Raub for their valuable contributions to this article.

Kanawha River Plant provided economical, locally-abundant coal-fired energy for 62 years

Plant manager Aaron Sink at Kanawha River Plant.

(Story by Rachel Hammer)

In the 1950s, coal began a 50-year run as the fastest growing fuel source for electric power generation. Appalachian Power Company’s Kanawha River Plant joined that run in 1953, generating electricity from economical and locally-abundant coal throughout its 62-year life.

Now, as the U.S. moves away from coal and other fossil fuels, the Glasgow, W.Va., plant is powering off and closing its doors.

                       Kanawha River Plant

             Construction Facts & Design Specs

Construction began Oct. 1950

In service:

Unit 1 – July 17, 1953

Unit 2 – Dec. 31, 1953

Construction jobs: 1,800 at peak
Estimated cost: $46 million
Concrete: 53,000 cubic yards
Structural steel: more than 6,600 tons
Each 200-MW unit estimated to serve about 275,000 households of “average demands.”
The two units combined estimated to be able to serve a city the size of Philadelphia.
Estimated coal use: about 1.08 million tons per year.
Boiler height: 123 feet
Boiler space requirements: 56 x 60 feet each
Operating steam pressure: 2,075 pounds per square inch
Rated steam output: 1,335,000 pounds per hour.
Water use: 140,000 gallons of Kanawha River water per condenser per minute.

Kanawha River Plant’s two 200-megawatt (MW) units were the first in a series of five such units. The other units in the series – Muskingum River units 1 and 2 and Tanners Creek Unit 3 – also are retiring at this time.

Kanawha River was initially envisioned as having five 175-MW units. The water circulation tunnels and coal belts were built to serve a plant of that size. However, at some point the decision was made to place three of the units elsewhere.

The company introduced the new Kanawha River Plant at a Press Day tour Aug. 18, 1953.

There are many ways to describe Kanawha River Plant and the employees who have operated and maintained it over the years. Here are just a few:

Kanawha River Plant: Efficient

During its operating life, Kanawha River Plant was recognized on several occasions for its efficiency as measured by heat rate, which is the measure used to determine how efficiently the plant converts the energy in fuel (coal) into electric energy.

According to the Federal Power Commission, Kanawha River was the most efficient plant in the U.S. in 1953, 1954 (9,113 Btu) and 1957. It was the most efficient plant on the AEP system in 1958.

Kanawha River Plant was the second most efficient plant in the world in 1956, the year in which the world’s top five most efficient plants were all engineered by the same organization: AEP.

Kanawha River Plant: Responsible

At the time of construction, a company news release stated, “The plant is equipped with the most modern, highly efficient equipment for the removal of fly ash from combustion gases. Located on the roof is a combination mechanical-electrostatic precipitator for each unit. The precipitators trap the particles of fly ash contained in the gases before they come from the stacks….It is expected that about 95 percent of the fly ash will be removed this way. The small percentage remaining, which will be exceedingly fine, will be dissipated in the upper atmosphere.”

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Kanawha River Plant: Leader

AEP’s marketing of coal combustion products had its roots at Kanawha River. The plant was the first in the AEP system to be built using fly ash-based concrete. And in the early 1960s, when most utilities considered ash as a waste product to be disposed of, plant manager Henry Skaggs wrote, “Fly ash should be thought of as a useful byproduct of coal that can be utilized if quality controlled.”

With the conversion of the plant’s ash-handling equipment to a dry system and under Skaggs’ quality control guidance, the plant produced an ash suitable for use in the manufacture of concrete. The product was marketed to concrete companies, and in less than a decade, sales of Kanawha River ash soared from zero to nearly 40,000 tons. Skaggs’ success earned him a reputation as the “father of fly ash sales,” and led to the creation of AEP’s Ash Management section.

While most of Kanawha River Plant’s fly ash was used for the production of concrete, it also went to other beneficial uses. Several area residential and commercial projects stand on ash structural landfills. And in nearby Fayette County, an ash grout pumped into worked-out mine cavities stabilizes the ground near the base of the New River Gorge Bridge.

Complete ash utilization allowed Kanawha River to operate without a structural ash landfill. Even ash that was not sold was hauled back to an active mine site and used in mine reclamation work.


Kanawha River Plant:  Innovative

Teamwork has always been key at Kanawha River Plant.

In 1991, Kanawha River faced two major condenser retubing outages – jobs that would normally call for specialized, outside labor. At the time, however, the plant was severely underutilized, so employees took on the projects essentially on their own. Employees from each of the plant’s work groups united and successfully worked to improve their plant.

In 1995, the group took its show on the road, first to Amos Plant to retube two condensers and repair a precipitator, then to Gavin to perform coal yard repairs. At the time, plant manager Mike Siemiaczko said, “People wondered whether a team with such diverse skills and backgrounds could work together. In both cases, our employees worked well together, got the job done right and saved the company some money.”

This activity seems to have led to the plant catching a second wind. Old equipment was repaired or replaced, operating costs were reduced and safety performance improved. That year, the plant took some big steps forward. Internal reorganization allowed employees to make repairs on a more timely basis. Siemiaczko said the teams bonded well, and the plant was utilized more often.

Kanawha River Plant:  Resourceful

This wasn’t the only time Kanawha River Plant employees demonstrated resourcefulness in getting the job done. Deb Osborne, who was plant manager from 2012-2013, recalled that when the July 2012 derecho took out the microwave system that supported telephone service to the plant, the active team leader maintained contact with generation dispatchers in Columbus via his personal cell phone.

With installation of an E-Crane in 2008, the plant could again receive coal by barge, increasing its delivery options.

Kanawha River Plant: Adaptable

While Kanawha River relied predominately on local coal delivered by truck, it had the ability to receive coal by barge. However, when the plant’s original barge-unloading crane was retired, the plant had to rely solely on truck delivery for a period of time.

In 2008, installation of a new E-Crane meant the plant again was able to take delivery by barge, increasing the plant’s fuel delivery options in what had become an ever-changing market.

An E-Crane (equilibrium crane) uses a counterweight to help it do its work. It features a parallelogram-style boom that that provides a direct mechanical connection between the counterweight – filled with concrete – and the load.

Kanawha River Plant: Dedicated

Former plant manager Joe Karrasch noted employees’ dedication, expressed through their commitment to safety and the way they took total ownership of the facility.

“Kanawha River was the cleanest coal plant in the AEP system and this was achieved only through this total ownership attitude,” Karrasch said. “In addition to this ownership attitude — at every level — the organization was committed to learning and operational excellence.”

Karrasch, who was plant manager from 2006 through 2008, is now asset investments manager, Commercial Operations (regulated).

Current Plant Manager Aaron Sink also noted the dedication and focus of Kanawha River Plant employees.

“No doubt about it, the employees of KRP are dedicated to generating electricity,” he said. “Just take a look at their contribution during the polar vortex and the second coldest winter in the last 35 years. Even though they knew we would be shutting down in May of 2015, they continued to add value with honor and integrity.

“I’m proud to be associated with them,” Sink concluded.

Contributors: Phil Moye, Joe Karrasch, Deb Osborne, Walt Raub, Aaron Sink.

Akins discusses energy issues on CNBC’s ‘Squawk Box’ program

AEP CEO Nick Akins appeared on CNBC’s “Squawk Box” news program May 28.

[Nick Akins], AEP chairman, president and chief executive officer, appeared on CNBC’s “Squawk Box” pre-market morning news and talk program May 28 to discuss energy issues, including how natural gas prices impact customers and the company’s profits.

“Natural gas has a very big impact on our customers from a fuel-cost perspective,” said Akins. “Our fuel cost is a pass-through to customers, so whenever natural gas prices are lower, it’s a direct benefit to the economy and our customers, and really it’s a value to us as we go through our portfolio. We’re using less coal, more natural gas, more renewables and so forth, so it really balances out our portfolio.”

Akins noted that the shale gas revolution in the U.S. touched off the major transformation that utility companies — including AEP — have embarked upon over the last couple of years.

“In the past, before the shale gas activities, natural gas was running at $11 to $14 a million BTUs,” Akins noted, “but today, to get above $3 is a particular challenge. If you think about the conversion rate with natural gas units, they are much more efficient than other types of generation units, so it turns out to be a double positive for customers.”


Billing alerts enhance customer experience

(Story by Rachel Hammer)

AEP and its operating companies continually strive to improve customers’ experiences with AEP and satisfaction with the service they receive. As part of that ongoing effort, the companies have expanded services that alert customers of important information about their accounts and services.

Beginning March 31, most of the companies have added Billing & Payment Alert services.

AEP’s Billing & Payment Alerts service sends enrolled customers an email or text message three days before payment is due. It also sends a message to confirm the company has received the payment. This week, AEP companies are introducing alerts for pending service disconnection due to nonpayment.

Enrolling is easy. Customers can enroll from the homepage of the local operating company website. They can select which alerts they want to receive. Customers also may receive alerts via text, email or both, depending on the preferences they indicate.

Alerts service is free to customers; however, message and data rates may apply.

“Proactively alerting customers to pending disconnection of service equals a win-win for AEP and our customers,” said Rob Cheripko, managing director – Customer Operations. “AEP will collect debts faster and avoid expensive truck rolls. The alerts will allow field personnel to work on other priorities while customers will be less likely to experience a loss in service due to nonpayment.”

AEP’s operating companies began offering Outage Alert services to customers March 3. This service notifies customers when power to their premise is interrupted and when it is restored. In between, it also provides updates on estimated restoration times. Already, more than 67,000 customers are enrolled for alert services.

Customer alerts about various account activities and situations is a service that customers desire and value. Leonard Lammlein, a customer service engineer principal located at AEP Ohio’s Fostoria Service Center said, “I have a couple of industrial customers that have been looking for some type of proactive outage alarm or alert for years. I now can steer them to subscribe to these alerts.”


AEP Retirees’ site publishes 400th story

The AEP Retirees website recently celebrated the publishing of its 400th story since its inception in April 2010.

With the posting of the Tanners Creek Plant retirement story May 18, the AEP Retirees website celebrated the publishing of its 400th story.

Launched in April 2010 as “the official website dedicated to serving retirees and other alumni of American Electric Power,” AEP Retirees has served as an external connection to the company for retirees and alumni. Since its formal launch, has been viewed over 963,000 times and 826 people are “followers” of the site. Since there is no formal login, the site can be viewed by anyone.

Although the site will continue to evolve, it currently features:

  • News and announcements from AEP;
  • Links to external news stories about AEP;
  • Feature stories about retirees;
  • Retirements and obituaries;
  • Historical photographs; and
  • Links to other useful websites, such as the AEP Retirement Savings Plan and the Wall of Heroes.


You may even subscribe to the site, and be notified by e-mail whenever a new item is posted. To date, the site has 826 subscribers.

There is also a Facebook page for retirees at


Appalachian Power worker saves man from burning home

Appalachian Power Company line servicer Tommy Bryant rescued a man from the roof of his burning home, assisted the man’s elderly mother with her oxygen and then helped de-energize the service to the home.

(Story by Matthew Thompson)

WAYNE, W. Va. – A family in Wayne County has an Appalachian Power employee to thank after a man was rescued from a house fire May 14.

Tommy Bryant, a line servicer based in Huntington, used an Appalachian Power bucket truck to rescue Scott Dickerson from the roof of a burning home in Wayne.

View a video of the news story. (Please be patient — video is slow to load.)

Around 9 a.m. that morning, Bryant had just left a job and was headed to another when he noticed suspicious smoke coming from a nearby neighborhood.

“It seemed odd there was this type of smoke in the area of town where I was,” Bryant said. “I don’t know, but something told me to go look and see what was going on.”

Bryant followed the trail of smoke to a home on Keyser Street where Dickerson and his grandmother resided. While the grandmother had escaped the home, Dickerson had crawled out onto the roof to avoid the smoke and flames. The escape had left him stuck on the roof with no safe way to get down.

With police and fire departments still en route to the scene, Bryant jumped into action to rescue Dickerson. He parked his truck and maneuvered the bucket to the roof and safely brought the man down to the ground.

“All I wanted to do was what I needed to do so he wouldn’t get hurt,” Bryant said.

With Dickerson off the roof, Bryant ran around to the front of the home to check on the grandmother. The woman told Bryant she was on oxygen and that her tanks and machine were still inside the home. Bryant then braved the heavy smoke, crawled on his hands and knees and safely secured the oxygen tanks from the front of the house.

“I might have crawled 10 or 15 feet,” Bryant said. “It was too hot for me to go much further.”

Once Dickerson, his grandmother and the oxygen tanks were out of harm’s way, Bryant jumped back into his Appalachian role and de-energized service at the home.

Although the rescue happened in a matter of minutes, Bryant said the ordeal went by in slow motion.

“When you’re in the middle of it, it seems like its forever,” Bryant said. “But it all happened pretty quickly.”

Rick Wiseman, the Huntington district manager, said he was thankful that Bryant was nearby, willing to help and did so without anyone getting hurt.

“When I heard Tommy was involved, I was not surprised,” Wiseman said. “I’m very proud and so are all of his colleagues in the Huntington district.”

Bryant spent much of the afternoon in the media spotlight, providing interviews for local television stations. When he arrived home after work, Bryant said he spent a quiet evening with his wife, son and two grandchildren.

But Bryant did receive a little present from his wife for his courageous effort.

“She went out and got me a steak for dinner,” Bryant said.

Bryant has worked for Appalachian Power since 1996. He has been a line servicer for the past seven years. He previously served in the U.S Army and is a Desert Storm veteran. Bryant said a combination of his military service, Appalachian safety training and his upbringing gave him the confidence to jump into action.

Although many call him a hero, Bryant said he doesn’t consider himself one.

“The word hero is just not for me,” Bryant said. “The military, the police and the fire guys, they’re the heroes because they do it every day.”

Walking away

Jeff Harrah, an energy production supervisor at Kanawha River Plant, discusses the upcoming plant closure.

Jeff Harrah, an energy production supervisor at Kanawha River Plant, discusses the upcoming plant closure.

(Story by Phil Moye)

AEP will retire 23 coal-fired generating units in 2015 as part of the company’s plan for complying with the Mercury Air Toxics Standards approved by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in December 2011.

Jeff Harrah, who works at Appalachian Power Company’s Kanawha River Plant, talks about the plant closures from the perspective of affected employees.

View the Jeff Harrah video.

Kentucky Power electrician honored for efforts to save choking victim

(Story by Allison Barker)

PIKEVILLE, Ky. – Kentucky Power electrician Nathan Newsome’s split-second decision to help a choking victim has earned him the American Electric Power Chairman’s Life Saving Award and the American Red Cross Certificate of Extraordinary Personal Action.

Nick Akins, AEP’s president and chief executive officer, recently traveled to Pikeville to personally present Newsome with the chairman’s award, which recognizes employees for their selflessness in helping others.

“I am always moved, but never surprised, when I hear that an AEP employee steps up to help someone in need,” Akins said. “Nathan’s actions exemplify what we stand for and who we strive to be at Kentucky Power and AEP. We are incredibly proud of him for using the life-saving skills that he’s learned as an AEP employee to save the life of a stranger.”

AEP CEO Nick Akins (left) recently traveled to Pikeville to personally present Nathan Newsome (right) with the Chairman’s Life Saving Award.

When Newsome stopped by the Gold Ring Diner in Elkhorn City Jan. 15, he planned to grab a quick burger and fries and then head back to work. Instead, while waiting for his order, he jumped in to perform the Heimlich maneuver on Jim Reid as he was choking on pie and ice cream. No one else in the restaurant that day knew first aid and CPR.

“We are proud of Nathan and his heroic efforts to help a stranger in need,” said Greg Pauley, Kentucky Power president and chief operating officer. “When others were unsure what to do, he did not hesitate to step in. His quick decision is a source of pride and inspiration to all of us.”

Newsome, a five-year employee who received Red Cross safety training as part of his job, said it felt good knowing he could be of assistance.

“Everyone started thanking me for my help and I explained I just did what I had been trained to do,” Newsome said. “It feels really good to know you made a difference and knew what to do to help someone.”

The award Red Cross award Newsome earned is given to an individual or a team of individuals who saves or sustains a life by using skills and knowledge learned in an American Red Cross Health and Safety Services course.

“Every day, ordinary people make extraordinary contributions by putting their needs aside to help others in times of crisis,” said Joanna King, executive director of the Eastern Kentucky Chapter of the American Red Cross. “We are proud to present Nathan with this award. He had the courage to step up, take charge and use his Red Cross training to assist someone in a true emergency.”

Newsome was not the only Pikeville area employee to receive an award during Akins’ Kentucky visit. Akins also presented Kentucky Power Field Services Supervisor Carolyn Thacker with the 2014 AEP Utilities President’s Safety Award. The award recognized the Pikeville MRO group for achieving Triple Zero – zero recordable incidents, zero severity days and zero preventable accidents in 2014.

Nick Akins presents Kentucky Power Field Services Supervisor Carolyn Thacker with the 2014 AEP Utilities President’s Safety Award.

After the awards, Akins addressed questions and concerns from Kentucky Power’s Pikeville District employees. With the closure of many coal-fired power slated for the end of May, many employees wanted to hear from Akins about AEP’s future. Power generated at Big Sandy Unit 2 in Louisa will be among 6,750 megawatts lost this year.

“It’s been a challenge for a lot of people,” Akins said. “I can’t imagine how it would be to not only be retiring but to have the plant where you worked your whole life closing. That’s a pretty emotional experience. We’re going to get through it. We’ve been as compassionate as we can be in the process and that’s something we’re very committed to so that people can transition on with their lives.”

Atkins also told employees he was happy to join Pauley for a recent meeting with Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear following an order from the Kentucky Service Commission that questioned a formula in use for decades to determine fuel cost recovery. Pauley wanted employees to know “Nick had our backs.”

Akins said, “The order that came out seemed to indicate that we tried to hoodwink the commission and it really did disparage us in a lot of ways. I wanted the governor to know that that’s not the way we do business. … AEP is not about trying to hoodwink anybody. We are very transparent.”

Tanners Creek Plant ends more than six decades of service

(Story by Tracy Warner)

LAWRENCEBURG, Ind. — The bookends of Tanners Creek Plant’s lifespan speak volumes about the men and women who have worked there over six decades.

During its first two years in operation – 1951 and 1952 – Tanners Creek Plant was the world’s most efficient steam plant, an achievement recorded again in 1956.

Midway through the 63rd year of the plant’s tenure, when last year’s polar vortex taxed the generation systems of the Midwest and Eastern U.S., Tanners Creek employees – already knowing the plant would be retired the following year — met the challenge. All four units ran at capacity to meet the need. In a sterling example of the close-knit family that is the Tanners Creek work force, retirees came in to work alongside their brothers and sisters to keep the units running.

Throughout its working life, Tanners Creek has been a reliable staple for Indiana Michigan Power and AEP. At the end of May, Tanners Creek and its four units with a capacity of 995 megawatts (MW) will retire.

Three Essentials

Key dates in Tanners Creek Plant history

1951 — Tanners Creek Plant dedicated; Unit 1 operational; named world’s most efficient steam plant.

1952 — Unit 2 online; named world’s most efficient steam plant.

1954 — Unit 3 online.

1956 — Tanners Creek named world’s most efficient steam plant.

1964 — 500-MW Unit 4 online; becomes AEP”S largest generation facility.

2002 — Wins AEP Horizon Award after going two years without an injury.

2009-2011; 2011-2014 — Tanners Creek records two years with no recordable incidents.

2012 — Receives Governor’s Workplace Safety Award.

2015 — Tanners Creek Plant retires.

Tanners Creek Plant is named for the stream that flows into the Ohio River just west of the plant. The stream was named for John Tanner, an 18th century settler across the river, who founded Tanners Station, which later became Petersburg, Ky.

Company officials selected the 200-acre site because it met three essential needs: accessibility to condensing water, accessibility to coal and proximity to power load centers.

The plant’s dedication May 24, 1951, was a major event, drawing more than 600 people including Indiana Gov. Henry Schricker; Philip Sporn, president of AEP forerunner American Gas and Electric Co. and I&M; and business and civic leaders from communities that I&M served, including 25 from Fort Wayne.

“Electricity generated here will be used to serve farmers to produce food, factories to turn out defense material, homes to rear children in the American way of life, and schools and institutions to create public and industrial leaders of the future,” the Cincinnati Post reported the day before the dedication.

Pride and Determination

A year after Unit 1 began generating power, Unit 2 came online. Unit 3 began generating electricity in 1954. In 1964, the 500 MW Unit 4 made Tanners Creek the largest generating plant on the AEP system.

From left: Tanners Creek’s first plant manager, E.E. “Pat” Clapper, Indiana Gov. Henry Shricker and Philip Sporn, president of American Gas and Electric, look over the new Tanners Creek Unit 1 during the plant’s dedication May 24, 1951.

Unit 4 used supercritical technology, which has higher efficiency and lower emissions. Though it was not AEP’s first, Tanners Creek Unit 4 helped lead to better performance on later supercritical units.

During construction, workers moved 800,000 cubic yards of earth for the foundations of the first unit ­– for a floodwall to hold back the Ohio River. The floodwall was put to the test a number of times, the first within nine months of its completion.

Indeed, though even the damaging Flood of 1964 flooded Tanners Creek’s coal yards, the plant continued generating electricity, remembers Tom Kallmeyer, who worked at Tanners Creek for 42 years, the last 14 as plant manager. “We had to come in by boat, but we kept it running,” Kallmeyer said.

“The employees’ commitment to the community and their commitment to excellence is second to none,” said Tim Kerns, who served as Tanners Creek plant manager for five years before taking on the same role at Rockport. “Their versatility to take on different responsibilities stands out.”

Plant employees have long had a can-do approach. “When Tanners Creek said it would be done, it would be done,” said Larry Heffelmire, a 42-year Tanners Creek veteran.

Plant Manager Doug Rosenberger added, “Whenever there is a need, you can count on the employees to be here and to do everything they can to do it right. They’ve always been dedicated.”

That dedication was never more apparent than during the 2014 polar vortex.

Tanners Creek: important in the community

  • Annual payroll: $7.7 million (2014)
  • Payroll taxes: $3.4 million (2013)
  • Local property tax payments:  approximately $1.9 million

“Everybody, including retirees, were coming in,” Rosenberger said. “Folks from all different groups were coming in and doing jobs that weren’t their normal jobs to get it done.”

Consider that determination to keep Tanners Creek at full capacity came after employees had already learned the plant was to be retired.

“I have marveled at the unwavering dedication that the Tanners Creek employees continue to exhibit toward their job responsibilities in face of their pending plant retirement and job disposition,” said John Mazzone, managing director – Fleet Performance and I&M. “Their performance has not only kept Tanners Creek plant safe and compliant, but also has managed to make substantial commercial contributions to I&M and the corporation, all while under glide-path operation. Theirs is truly a story of focusing their energy positively by taking ownership. It has been my privilege to know and work with such great people.”

Safety, safety, safety

Heffelmire has seen many changes over his 42 years at Tanners Creek, but none compare to the improvements in safety. “Safety glasses came along, ear protection came along … The biggest thing here is safety,” he said.

“When Tanners Creek said it would be done, it would be done,” said Larry Heffelmire, a 42-year Tanners Creek veteran.

The plant’s commitment to safety is apparent in the number safety awards and recognitions the plant received, particularly for long stretches of accident-free days. The plant’s reputation for safety led to winning the coveted AEP Horizon Award in 2002.

Employees’ ongoing safety awareness was recognized again in 2012, when the plant was awarded the Indiana Governor’s Workplace Safety Award.

Former plant manager Kallmeyer said safety awareness – both for themselves and for co-workers – has long been pervasive at Tanners Creek. “The employees had a sense of safety,” he said. “It was something they took a lot of pride in, being safe and taking care of each other.”

People Helping People

When Tanners Creek employees and retirees gathered in late April for what will likely be the last of annual service dinners, two current employees topped the list for tenure.

Ronald E. Thomas, a maintenance welder, is the most senior current employee, while Heffelmire, process supervisor, started Nov. 21, 1972 – a week after Thomas.

Thomas, Heffelmire and many other current and previous employees described a close-knit family atmosphere among the Tanners Creek employees.

“It hasn’t been hard to come to work every day when you like the people you work with and the people you work for,” Thomas said.

Heffelmire describes how employees help each other – and each other’s friends and relatives – off the job. “Everybody’s still friends, they’re brothers,” he said. “People in operations are tighter than their own families.”

“It hasn’t been hard to come to work every day when you like the people you work with and the people you work for,” said Ronald E. Thomas, a maintenance welder and the plant’s most senior current employee.

Rosenberger agreed. “This is home and family to the employees,” he said. “They’ve always been dedicated. They chip in together in times of need like you don’t see elsewhere. It’s both on and off the job.”

That sense of family and helping extends beyond the plant to Lawrenceburg and surrounding communities.

“The relationship between Tanners Creek employees with the Lawrenceburg community is unique,” said Kerns, plant manager from 2006-2011. “The plant is right in the middle of town, and there has been a great working relationship between the plant, its employees and the community.”

People Helping People, a non-profit group formed by Tanners Creek employees, started with a $400 donation in 1988 and has grown to annually raise about $40,000 and distribute 70,000 cans of food to pantries and other non-profits in Tanners Creek’s home county of Dearborn as well as neighboring Switzerland, Ohio, and Ripley counties.

“We’ve gone from one pickup truck of groceries to a semi-load,” said Sonia Deshong, co-chair of the People Helping People committee and former safety supervisor at the plant who recently transferred to Columbus as a contract analyst. “It’s supported by the employees and retirees and contractors and vendors. When you ask, you get support.”

Fundraisers include a golf outing, a canned food drive and the spring “marathon,” when employees walk to raise money and socialize with a picnic in front of the plant’s office. Though Tanners Creek is being retired, plans call for employees at the adjacent, AEP-operated Lawrenceburg Gas Plant to continue the People Helping People program.

[Mark McCullough], executive vice president – Generation, joined the marathon event May 8 to thank employees.

“I began my career at Tanners Creek Plant in 1981 and worked there for about 12 years, so this plant holds special memories for me,” said McCullough. “I learned a lot from the people at Tanners Creek – about power plants, about AEP and this industry, and about myself and the kind of employee and person I wanted to be. My time at Tanners Creek had a major impact on who I am today.”

Honoring Tanners Creek

Near the end of the 2015 session of the Indiana General Assembly, lawmakers adopted a resolution honoring the plant. Among the compelling words in the resolution:

“Indiana Michigan Power’s Tanners Creek Plant will cease producing electricity in May 2015, but its legacy as a home to many families, community steward, and a reliable electric provider to the people of Indiana will never be forgotten.”

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