Skip to content

Pirkey employee receives award for rendering aid

George Craig receives a Good Samaritan Award from Venita McCellon-Allen, SWEPCO president and chief operating officer. Photo by Derrick Taylor.

George Craig receives a Good Samaritan Award from Venita McCellon-Allen, SWEPCO president and chief operating officer. Photo by Derrick Taylor.

(Story by Scott McCloud)

The Southwestern Electric Power Company (SWEPCO) leadership team recently recognized George Craig, welder machinist at SWEPCO’s Pirkey Power Plant, with a Good Samaritan Award during a recent Strategic Road Show employee meeting.

Richard Morris, maintenance supervisor at Pirkey, told the story:

“George was sent to town to pick up parts for a job. On his way back to the plant he noticed a woman on the ground in her front yard. George stopped to check on the lady, who was 82 years old. She had fallen down and injured her knee. She had been trying to crawl back to her house. George called an ambulance and the woman’s daughter. George stayed with her until the daughter and the ambulance arrived on the scene.”

Reflecting on the incident, Morris added: “This woman lives on a country road. Who knows how long she would have been there if George had not come through that morning. We need more people in this world like George that are willing to get involved and help people when they are in need. I’m proud that this man works on my crew.”


AEP employee volunteers to make a difference; mini-grants available to support community projects

America celebrates the spirit of volunteerism this year on Make a Difference Day, Saturday, Oct. 25. The 24th annual “national day of doing good” is sponsored by USA WEEKEND Magazine in partnership with Points of Light/HandsOn Network.

AEP again is making a difference through a mini-grant program that encourages employees around the System to become involved in community projects in their locales.connects

AEP’s Make a Difference Day grants range up to $300 to help fund local projects that involve at least five active or retired AEP employees in partnership with a school or nonprofit organization.

Projects can be as simple as helping a family in need or may be a coordinated effort serving an entire community.  To learn more about national Make a Difference Day, including getting started, entering your project on-line, an idea generator, examples of past projects, and past award winners, visit

Application deadline for mini-grants is Sept. 25.

Complete an online application at

Participation is key to policy outcomes

(Story by Tammy Ridout)

Working in the nation’s capital, the staff at AEP’s Washington office is constantly immersed in the latest policy debates – on topics ranging from environmental regulations to tax law to health care. They are also keenly aware of the impact AEP employees, contractors and retirees can have on shaping those policy outcomes.


“The knowledge and passion of AEP’s work force and our retirees comes through loud and clear to lawmakers,” said Tony Kavanagh, senior vice president of governmental affairs in the Washington office. “That’s why it is important that more AEP employees, contractors and retirees get involved in our policy efforts, including our most recent campaign, We Stand for Energy. I hope everyone will sign up and stay informed of the industry-wide issues we are facing that will affect our customers and our company.”

Employees, contractors and retirees are urged to join this online community and help share the industry’s critical messages with policy makers at the state and national levels.

“Members of Congress need to hear from the public and especially from those who are responsible for providing the safe, reliable and affordable electricity that powers our economy,” Kavanagh said. “Whether it’s by voting in the election, participating in AEP’s political action committees, sending a letter to lawmakers about a specific issue or sharing stories about the value of electricity in our communities, our engagement in the political and policy making process is critically important to our future.”

Kavanagh added that employees, contractors and retirees will have an upcoming opportunity to share AEP’s messages with the U.S. EPA and members of Congress on the EPA’s proposed Carbon Pollution Guidelines for Existing Power Plants before the public comment period ends Oct. 16. Employees should look for more information on that campaign in September.

Retirees sought to join employees on Read to Me Day

Jon Atchley, who retired after 30 years with Appalachian Power, reads “Silver Packages,” by West Virginia author Cynthia Rylant to students at Our Lady of Fatima Catholic School in Huntington, W.Va., on Read to Me Day 2013. This year’s event is scheduled for Nov. 20, 2014. Photo by Allison Barker.

Jon Atchley, who retired after 30 years with Appalachian Power, reads “Silver Packages,” by West Virginia author Cynthia Rylant to students at Our Lady of Fatima Catholic School in Huntington, W.Va., on Read to Me Day 2013. This year’s event is scheduled for Nov. 20, 2014. Photo by Allison Barker.

Every fall, hundreds of Appalachian Power Company employees and retirees fan out across Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia to read the same book to schoolchildren as part of Read to Me Day.

Last year, about 420 schools participated in the annual event that promotes reading and gives volunteers the opportunity to give back to their communities. There is no cost to schools or volunteers to participate. While volunteers say the event is one of the best things they do each year, areas remain where finding volunteer readers can be a challenge. That’s where retirees can help, said Jeri Matheney, Appalachian Power’s communications director.

“Scheduling readers at nearly 450 schools in three states is big job,” Matheney said. “We start planning months before the event and have volunteers who love visiting the same school year after year. But we could use some additional volunteers in southwest Virginia and southern West Virginia, particularly in the Beckley and Bluefield areas and in the Lynchburg area.”

This year’s event is slated for Nov. 20. The book is “When Charlie McButton Lost Power” by Suzanne Collins, author of the Hunger Games series. The clever, humorous story in rhyme with bold cartoon illustrations takes us through a day when Charlie’s techno-driven world comes crashing down after a thunderstorm causes a power outage. It’s a modern-day story that explores sibling relationships and making good choices. After reading the book, a copy is donated to each school’s library to give students a chance to check the book out on their own.

Retiree Jon Atchley has participated in Read to Me Day for 12 years and remains one of its biggest supporters.

“I enjoy all their little faces and their enthusiasm,” Atchley said. “The children make it worthwhile. I look forward to it every year.”

Appalachian Power began its Read to Me Day program in West Virginia in 2001, and expanded to Virginia and Tennessee two years ago. Since that first day in 2001, Appalachian Power has donated more than 4,400 books to school libraries and read aloud to nearly 200,000 students. Readers are usually asked to read to two classrooms per school.

If you are interested in participating in Read to Me Day 2014, please complete this information form:

July Obituaries

AEP River Operations

Jason Barnes, 36, AEP River Operations-Paducah, died July 29.

AEP Texas

Noe Hogeda, 57, Ballinger Office, died July 20.

Kentucky Power

Alan Robinson, 55, Big Sandy Plant, died July 23.

Texas Central

Rosa Villarreal, 55, Electric System Operations, died July 20.

July Retirements

AEP Utility Operations

John Merlina, AEP Headquarters, retired July 29 after 29 years of service.

Indiana Michigan Power

Theodore Melnyk, Cook Nuclear Plant, retired June 30 after 29 years of service.

Policy, Finance and Strategic Planning

Debra Flesher, Minerva Annex, retired July 27 after 17 years of service.

Public Service Company of Oklahoma

Roger Forte, Lawton Operations Center, retired July 31 after 35 years of service.

Southwestern Electric Power Company

Michael Young, Shreveport General Office, retired July 30 after 40 years of service.

Electric Universe education site gets makeover

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 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 – – with teachers and other adults who educate youngsters about electricity and electrical safety.


Please stand with me for energy

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.WSFE_11x17

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 to sign up. Once you have joined, you can visit 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.






AEP retirees restore an iconic WW II boat with a ‘story to tell’

AEP retirees Roger Dyer (left) and Jim Michalec are helping to restore a historic World War II landing craft at the Mott's Military Museum in Groveport, Ohio.

AEP retirees Roger Dyer (left) and Jim Michalec are helping to restore a historic World War II landing craft at the Mott’s Military Museum in Groveport, Ohio.

(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.

Sam Belfiore, a Silver Star Navy coxswain, piloted the low-draft 36-foot craft during the war. Photo courtesy of Mott's Military Museum.

Sam Belfiore, a Silver Star Navy coxswain, piloted the low-draft 36-foot craft during the war. Photo courtesy of Mott’s Military Museum.

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.


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.”



Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 806 other followers