(Story by Fay White)
Is your home ready for winter?
Winter is around the corner, which means colder weather is on its way. Staying warm is a top priority, but can you save money while doing it?
Aside from snuggling under blankets or drinking hot chocolate, here are a few tips on how to prepare your home for wintry weather while putting more money back into your bank account.
According to the U.S. Department of Energy, drafts can waste 5 to 30 percent of your energy use. But how do you prevent the cold air from blowing in your home?
- Use a draft snake stopper (or dog). (See photo.)
- Caulk around windows and doors if the gap is bigger than the width of a nickel.
- Install storm doors and windows. This can increase efficiency by 45 percent. If you purchase energy efficient doors, windows and skylights, you can also qualify for a federal tax credit covering 30 percent of the cost, up to $1,500.
Turn down the heat when you leave your house. Every degree you lower the thermostat can save one to three percent on your bill.
Purchasing a programmable thermostat will help keep tabs on temperature. They are available for $50, but can save the average family $180 per year.
Reverse your ceiling fan
This can cut heating costs by as much as 10 percent.
That’s right, your fan doesn’t just keep you cold. Run the fan in a clockwise direction creating an upward draft and pushing hot air down.
Change furnace filters
This should be done once per month during heating season.
Buy filters in bulk and store them near the furnace. This will reduce the cost of each filter, and serve as a constant reminder to change your filter each month.
Consider switching to LEDs for your holiday lighting
- LED lights use 75 percent less energy helping you to save on your electric bill.
- LED holiday lights last 25 times longer.
- LED lights are safer because they generate less heat.
Other quick tips include using your fireplace more, tuning up your heating system, cleaning your gutters and assessing your roof for missing shingles.
Also, now is the perfect time to take an extra step and conduct an online energy check-up. This will help you save on both money and energy during the holiday and winter seasons!
For more ways to save, check out the in-home energy assessment and AEPOhio.com/WasteLess.
Don’t forget to share this information with family and friends!
(Story by Tammy Ridout)
AEP Dec. 1 filed 400 pages of comments and documentation with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on its proposed Clean Power Plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from power plants.
AEP’s comments focus on the significant flaws in assumptions and data the EPA used to develop the four building blocks of the proposed rule. The comments address the critical need for a thorough assessment of the rule’s impact on electric grid reliability. AEP’s comments also discuss the need for states to have enough time and flexibility to develop and implement emission reduction plans that make sense for their resource mix and economies, and the need to maintain a balanced, diverse mix of fuels for electricity generation in the United States.
In the comments, AEP calls for a less prescriptive rule with more realistic targets and timelines. AEP believes the EPA must give states additional time to develop compliance plans, eliminate the 2020 interim goals, and allow enough time to build the transmission lines, pipelines and new generation facilities needed to maintain the reliability of the grid.
“I’d like to thank our team of talented employees who came together for the past six months to share their expertise and help review and analyze this complicated proposal to develop our comments and suggested changes to the rule,” said Nick Akins, AEP chairman, president and chief executive officer. The EPA is expected to issue its final rule in June 2015, and AEP will continue to be engaged in the process, Akins said.
“A big thank you also goes out to the 5,200 employees, contractors, retirees, shareholders, suppliers, customers and other stakeholders who answered the call and submitted comments to the EPA and members of Congress on the proposed rule. Your engagement and support makes a huge difference in our efforts to help the EPA and lawmakers understand the impacts of this proposal,” Akins said.
“We stand ready to work with the states, the administration, Congress and our customers to develop a common-sense approach to further reduce our greenhouse gas emissions, while maintaining reliable, affordable electricity to fuel the U.S. economy,” Akins said.
The holiday shopping season is upon us and consumers are being bombarded with ads for discounted merchandise, free shipping and other special deals.
Online sales are expected to be significant again this year.
How can you maximize your transaction security? If the offer seems too good to be true, it probably is. Don’t get blindsided by the lure of great discounts – the security of your information is what’s most important. If you aren’t prepared and cautious, you could become the next cyber crime victim, the cost of which could far exceed any savings you might have received from the retailer.
When purchasing online this holiday season—and all year long—keep these tips in mind to help minimize your risk:
- Secure your mobile device and computer. Be sure to keep the operating system and application software updated/patched on all of your computers and mobile devices. Be sure to check that your anti-virus/anti-spyware software is running and receiving automatic updates. Confirm that your firewall is enabled.
- Use passwords. It’s one of the simplest and most important steps to take in securing your devices, computers and accounts. If you need to create an account with the merchant, be sure to use a strong password. Always use more than 10 characters, with numbers, special characters, and upper and lower case letters. Use a unique password for every unique site.
- Do not use public computers or public wireless for your online shopping. Public computers may contain malicious software that steals your credit card information when you place your order. Additionally, criminals may be intercepting traffic on public wireless networks to steal credit card numbers and other confidential information.
- Pay by credit card, not debit card. A safer way to shop on the Internet is to pay with a credit card rather than debit card. Debit cards do not have the same consumer protections as credit cards. Credit cards are protected by the Fair Credit Billing Act and may limit your liability if your information was used improperly. Check your statements regularly.
- Know your online shopping merchants. Limit your online shopping to merchants you know and trust. If you have questions about a merchant, check with the Better Business Bureau or the Federal Trade Commission. Confirm the online seller’s physical address, where available, and phone number in case you have questions or problems.
- Look for “https” when making an online purchase. The “s” in “https” stands for “secure” and indicates that communication with the webpage is encrypted.
- Do not respond to pop-ups. When a window pops up promising you cash or gift cards for answering a question or taking a survey, close it by pressing Control + F4 for Windows and Command + W for Macs.
- Do not click on links or open attachments in emails from financial institutions/vendors. Be cautious about all emails you receive even those from legitiatmate organizaitons, including your favorite retailers. The emails could be spoofed and contain malware. Instead, contact the source directly.
- Do not auto-save your personal information. When purchasing online, you may be given the option to save your personal information online for future use. Consider if the convenience is really worth the risk. The convenience of not having to reenter the information is insignificant compared to the significant amount of time you’ll spend trying to repair the loss of your stolen personal information.
- Use common sense to avoid scams. Don’t ever give your financial information or personal information via email or text. Information on many current scams can be found on the website of the Internet Crime Complaint Center: http://www.ic3.gov/default.aspx.
What to do if you encounter problems with an online shopping site?
Contact the seller or the site operator directly to resolve any issues. You may also contact the following:
Your State Attorney General’s Office – www.naag.org/current-attorneys-general.php
Your State Consumer Agency – www.usa.gov/directory/stateconsumer/index.shtml
The Better Business Bureau – www.bbb.org
The Federal Trade Commission – www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov
(Reprinted with permission from the Multi-State Information and Sharing Analysis Center.)
(Story by Teresa Hall)
CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Appalachian Power and American Electric Power employees and retirees made a difference last week in the lives of thousands of schoolchildren across West Virginia, Virginia and Tennessee. This year’s company sponsored Read to Me Day program reached a record number of schools across the company’s footprint providing the best opportunity yet to instill a love of reading in children.
More than 300 employees and retirees in the company’s three-state service territory read aloud to nearly 445 elementary schools Nov. 20 as part of the program. Employees and retirees read “When Charlie McButton Lost Power,” written by Suzanne Collins, author of the Hunger Games series. While at the school, readers visited two or more classrooms at each school, and then donated the book to the school’s library.
“This was truly an outstanding year for our Read to Me Day program,” said Allison Barker, Read to Me Day coordinator. “We couldn’t be more pleased with the feedback we’ve received from teachers and students as well as our own employees and retirees.”
Barry Mosser, a national account manager for AEP, read to students at Ceredo and Kenova elementary schools in West Virginia, and described the experience as awesome. “It was a pleasure for me to represent AEP/APCo in this worthwhile endeavor,” he said.
Barker and Jeri Matheney, director of corporate communications, also received feedback from librarians and teachers, including Samantha Asbury, a second grade teacher at Alum Creek Elementary School in West Virginia. “My class would like to send a thank you message to Staci Tighe for reading to us this morning,” wrote Asbury. “We really enjoyed her visit.”
School librarian Marcy Wohlford wrote, “Your employee Jim Cook did a great job reading to the second graders at Breckinridge Elementary in Fincastle, Va. He always does a super job here, and we look forward to his annual visit.”
Appalachian Power and Barker also received praise from employees like Jason Hill and Deb Osborne, who both commented on the company’s Facebook page. “They liked the book but what really surprised me were the questions that they asked,” Hill wrote. “These kids today are really thinking way above their age.”
Osborne wrote, “Thanks for organizing and supporting this. I read to four classes of amazing kids at Evans and Cottageville Elementary and they loved the book!”
The company 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 nearly 5,000 books to school libraries and read aloud to nearly 200,000 students.
“Our Read to Me Day school partnership is a great way for our employees to be involved in communities where they live and work,” Barker said. “It’s also an opportunity for us to emphasize the important role that reading plays in education and careers.”
(Story by Carmen Prati-Miller)
For 20 years, Joan and Lee Kelvington, retired Ohio Power T&D director, have sponsored the annual Oglebay Park mini-vacation contest. Yes, you read that right — the contest is in its 20th year!
Winners have come from far and near the Wheeling, W. Va., resort and conference center and enjoyed the getaway all because of Oglebay is home to the Winter Festival of Lights, which ranks as one of America’s largest holiday light shows.
“Joan and I have many fond memories of Oglebay,” said Kelvington. “Sponsoring the mini-vacation for our AEP family is an awesome experience, and we look forward to meeting the lucky winner each year.”
Oglebay Resort and Conference Center is a wonderful escape from day-to-day activities. It encompasses 1,700 acres of abundant recreational countryside nestled in the hills of Wheeling, W. Va. Among the activities available to visitors are championship golf courses, miles of paved walking/jogging trails, computerized light and sound shows of cascading waters, seasonal gardens, museums, shopping, a zoo and planetarium, a hands-on Discovery Lab, a state-of-the-art environmental center, a fabulous day spa and, of course, the Winter Festival of Lights which ranks among America’s largest holiday light shows. It is part of a six-mile car tour and is one of Oglebay’s most popular attractions. Other exciting events that draw thousands of visitors are the always-popular Octoberfest, Easter treasure hunt for children, spring flower show plus an annual antique show. For more information about the park, visit Oglebay-Resort.com.
The getaway package includes three days and two nights deluxe lodging and breakfast for two, an evening’s dinner for two at the Ihlenfeld dining room, as well as admission passes for boating, fishing, miniature golf, tennis and swimming.
Given availability of resort accommodations, the lucky winner will have a full year from which he/she can schedule the exciting getaway.
To enter the contest, just click on the following link — aep.com/employees/Oglebay/ — and complete the entry form as instructed. All contest entries must be submitted electronically by Dec. 31.
Winner is responsible for all travel arrangements and making reservations.
Charles “Kayo” Murphy, at 88 years young, was at the controls in 1975 the first time AEP’s Cook Nuclear Plant Unit 1 reached “criticality” (a sustained nuclear fission chain reaction), and is still going strong. Murphy retired from AEP in 1988 after a long career at both Cook and the Clinch River Plant.
The Herald-Palladium newspaper in Michigan recently published an interesting story about Murphy’s life and career. Read the story in its entirety.
AEP employees and retirees were honored for their military service November 11 as Veterans Day commemorations were held across the AEP System. At various locations, veterans enjoyed food and refreshments, received letters of appreciation from AEP Chairman, President and CEO Nick Akins, recognition pins, coffee travel mugs, and information about the AEP Military Veteran Employee Resource Group. Here’s a look at some of the events that honored our veterans.
About 70 military veteran employees enjoyed a breakfast buffet in the 1 Riverside Plaza cafeteria November 11 featuring presentation of the colors by a U.S. Navy honor guard from the Navy Operational Support Center in Columbus, Ohio. Scott Smith, senior vice president – Transmission, and Trevor Sthultz, energy coordinator I, expressed their appreciation to military veterans, noted AEP’s enhancement of its military leave pay policy, and encouraged employees to become members in the AEP Military Veterans Employee Resource Group. Smith is an executive sponsor of the MVERG and Sthultz is co-chair of the group.
AEP River Operations
AEP River Operations held an event to recognize its employee military veterans at its Chesterfield, Mo., office. Employees recognized at the office were Mike Brashier and Dave Guyton (Navy), Nick Prehm and Bill Johnson (Army).
The AEP Texas Veterans Day Celebration was held November 11 with refreshments served at the Corpus Christi home office.
Amos Plant — Employee military veterans at John Amos Plant in Winfield, W.Va., wanted to do something special to “pay it forward” for Veterans Day. Dave Wickline, Amos Plant manager, Chuck Mathews, senior HR consultant, and Jim Bays, energy production supervisor, visited the Veterans Home in Huntington, W.Va., November 12. The trio took three veterans and some of the staff out to lunch and presented them with a check. Mathews and Bays are veterans. A lunch was held November 14 at the plant to recognize all Amos veterans with coffee mugs, pins and appreciation letters, with Wickline and the plant management team present.
Beckley – Employees in Beckley and Hico, W.Va., attended a Veterans Recognition Breakfast at the Beckley Service Center Auditorium to recognize and honor local employee military veterans. A short recognition ceremony was held and biscuits were served.
Christiansburg — The Christiansburg District Recognition Team hosted a lunch November 11 for all AEP veteran employees who work in the Christiansburg District, regardless of their business unit, at the Pulaski Service Center, Pulaski, Va. Veterans from Transmission, Generation, Distribution and other supporting organizations were invited to attend.
Fieldale, Lynchburg, Rocky Mount — Employee military veterans were recognized at the Lynchburg Service Center in Lynchburg, Va., with a breakfast and a presentation thanking them for their service. The Rocky Mount and Fieldale service centers in Virginia also held breakfast celebrations for veterans.
Huntington and Hurricane — Employees gathered for a breakfast at the Huntington District Service Center in Huntington, W.Va. At the Hurricane Customer Operations Center in Hurricane, W.Va., a large banner was displayed with photos and names of employees who are military veterans.
Mountaineer Plant and Sporn Plant — Military veteran employees at Mountaineer Plant and Sporn Plant, both located in New Haven, W.Va., assembled in the Mountaineer cafeteria November 11 to be recognized by plant management. Veterans received recognition pins, letters of appreciation and Lowe’s gift cards.
Roanoke – Employees gathered at the Roanoke Service Center in Roanoke, Va., for a Veterans Day celebration. Veterans who were present included Gerald Swanson and Scott Deaner of Roanoke, as well as Dan Fields, a network mechanic from North Charleston. The program, prepared by Robbie Pierce, included a video with the history of Veterans Day, a speech by Ronald Reagan commending our service men and women and a commemoration of D-Day. Four veterans could not attend: Tony Wiseman, Luke Mason, Todd All and Les Okes. The John W. Vaughn Center in Roanoke recognized veterans with a cake celebration and a thank you card signed by all employees of their business unit.
Cardinal Plant, in Brilliant, Ohio, held a Veterans Day celebration luncheon to honor the 37 plant veterans, three Regional Service Organization home-based veterans, and several contractor veterans as well. Fred Koehler, father of Steve Koehler, Cardinal Plant maintenance planner, was the guest of honor. Fred is a World War II U.S. Army veteran who served with G Company, 11th Infantry, and fought on the European front, being involved shortly after D-Day (June 6, 1944). He was part of the Battle of the Bulge and served in Normandy, Northern France, Rhineland, Ardennes, and the Northern Apennines. Fred shared some of his experiences with the group of veterans including excerpts from the speech General George S. Patton delivered to the troops just prior to their departure from a base in Ireland.
Gavin Plant, in Cheshire, Ohio, recognized its military veteran employees with a card of appreciation signed by Plant Manager Dave Hoffman and a restaurant gift card that can be used anytime by the employee, presented to each military veteran employee.
Indiana Michigan Power
Cook Nuclear Plant — D.C. Cook Nuclear Plant, in Bridgman, Mich., honored its 365 military veteran employees with a listing of each of their names in the plant’s Daily Plan-It newsletter on November 11.
Fort Wayne — Indiana Michigan Power invited all I&M employees to a reception November 11 at One Summit Square to honor military veteran employees, with cake and punch served.
Tanners Creek Plant — Employees and retirees met at Tanners Creek Plant in Lawrenceburg, Ind., for a Veterans Day Luncheon November 11. The plant’s retired military veterans were invited to come in and have lunch with employees. P.G. Gentrup, a Tanners Creek retiree and military veteran, spoke to the group. Gentrup brought with him Brett Bondurant, a local veteran who lost both legs at the age of 19 in Afghanistan, and his grandfather, Jerry Bondurant.
Ashland — Kentucky Power recognized employee military veterans in a morning breakfast meeting November 11 at the Ashland Service Center, Ashland, Ky. Employees enjoyed fruit, danish, donuts, juice and coffee.
Big Sandy Plant — Big Sandy Plant’s 12th Annual Veterans Day Celebration was held at the plant in Louisa, Ky., on November 11. Approximately 23 veterans were in attendance. Students from Louisa Elementary School were on hand to play recorders and sing patriotic songs. Refreshments were served and each veteran received a gift.
Public Service Company of Oklahoma
Public Service Company of Oklahoma (PSO) has honored a number of employee military veterans with photos and profiles in the Inside PSO news blog, including Gary Knight, vice president – PSO Generation; Rick Nelson, technician – IT Support, McAlester; Brian Daly, general servicer, Elk City; Mike Hixson, manager – Community Affairs, Weatherford; and Erik Scott, manager – Comanche Station, Lawton. Nearly 200 PSO employees are military veterans; Knight is co-chair of the AEP Military Veteran Employee Resource Group (MVERG).
A Veterans Day program was held November 11 in the Braves Council Room at the PSO General Office in Tulsa, including breakfast, presentation of the colors by the Central High School Navy Junior ROTC, patriotic songs by Central High School’s ensemble, a veterans’ group photo, and insights on military service.
The event was followed by the annual Tulsa Veterans Day Parade. PSO was represented in the parade by military veteran employees who walked alongside a line truck. PSO power plants and service centers also held local recognition events.
Southwestern Electric Power Company
Texarkana MRO — The Texarkana Meter Revenue Operations group recognized local veterans with a special breakfast and presented them a letter from Nick Akins thanking them for their dedication and service to our country. SWEPCO veterans included Kameron Smith (Army), and Ricky Wright (Air Force) from Supply Chain; and Edward Forsaith (Navy), Benzel Shivers (Army and Navy), Michael Hopkins (Army), and Howard Brewer (Navy), all from MRO in Texarkana.
Welsh Power Plant — Welsh Power Plant, in Pittsburg, Texas, celebrated with a pancakes and eggs breakfast for about a dozen attendees, prepared by cooks Kenny McGill and Rick Wiltse. Alice Cogburn, Vickie Glenn and Michelle Morris assisted with serving the meal. Bo Harris, energy production superintendent, thanked employees for their service and handed out veterans pins and mugs.
AEP employees in Central Ohio were recently thanked for delivering nutritious meals and making friendly visits through LifeCare Alliance’s (LCA) Meals-on-Wheels program.
Brian Tierney, AEP executive vice president and chief financial officer, and Rich Mueller, vice president – Audit Services, both Executive Champs for the Meals-on-Wheels program, sponsored two appreciation breakfasts for the approximately 100 employees who participate in the program, one at AEP Headquarters in Columbus and one in Gahanna.
|Whitehall, Ohio, resident Henry Stone is a recipient of the Meals-on-Wheels program. Stone has been woodworking for over half a century and made the AEP volunteers on the route a pineapple tray to carry hot meals to the clients of LCA. Photo by Gail Klauck-Jacobs.|
LCA provides health and nutrition services to the homes of aged and chronically ill individuals. AEP volunteers from the Arena building, Gahanna offices and 1 Riverside Plaza deliver meals five days a week during their lunch hours.
AEP is in its 11th year of participation in the Corporate Route program. Deliveries are made to residents at Jaycee Arms and Nazareth Tower, two housing complexes for senior citizens in downtown Columbus, and on driving routes in Gahanna and on the west side of Columbus.
“AEP’s volunteer efforts save LifeCare Alliance, a not-for-profit organization, $48,000 to $60,000 annually,” Mueller said. In addition to the Meals-on-Wheels volunteers, AEP has supported LifeCare Alliance by funding the purchase of new cooking kettles, facility lighting upgrades and providing in-kind print services.
Chuck Gehring, LifeCare Alliance president and chief executive officer, and Pauli Tice, LCA director of volunteer services, attended the breakfasts to thank AEP employees for volunteering to deliver meals during the week — often a difficult time to find volunteers to assist.
Sherry Hill, a regulatory analyst in Regulatory Operations for AEP Ohio, serves as Corporate Route Coordinator for the AEP volunteers and has done so since the program began. Hill is dedicated to the program and contributes greatly to its success. “We are always looking for more volunteers,” she said.
“I would think that if employees know that the commitment is so small versus the huge impact that we make on someone’s day, more employees would participate,” said Deborah Harris, AEP Ohio underground damage prevention lead, who delivers meals for LCA. “They do not have to commit to a daily or even a weekly schedule – once a month for an hour during lunch is all that is asked.”
Tierney and Mueller said they are always looking for more volunteers for this worthwhile community service and are hopeful they will garner enough support to add another route. For more information or to volunteer with the program in Central Ohio, contact Hill at firstname.lastname@example.org.
(Story by Allison Barker)
ROANOKE, Va. — As the foliage begins to fade each fall, talk about football playoffs, from community recreation leagues to college sports, swings into full gear. In the Roanoke area, young athletes with dreams of making it big gather at Walrond Park, where the athletic field is now known as Bobby Ragland Football Field.
Named this year for Appalachian Power Company retiree Bobby Ragland, the Roanoke County field has been home to countless games, many of them coached by Ragland. For more than 40 years, Ragland, 79, served as a volunteer baseball, football and basketball coach through the North Roanoke Recreation Club, leading 97 teams and compiling a 900-445-18 record. He also spent two years coaching at other rec clubs in Villa Heights, Williamson Road and Salem. He has donated countless hours of practice and games to the community.
“You meet some of the best people in the world on the sports field and gyms,” Ragland told WSLS-TV, when honored by the Roanoke County Board of Supervisors. The move did not come easy as county leaders said they typically don’t name fields after people who are still alive.
“I told them just forget about it,” Ragland said. “I’d rather be alive and not have a field.”
But former players and rec club members, including Roanoke County Supervisor Butch Church, persisted. Perseverance and discipline are qualities many learned from Ragland. Since 2001, the longtime athlete has battled colon cancer and other health issues. His actions and words continue to encourage others to never give up.
“Do what is right, do the best you can and treat other people the way you want to be treated,” Ragland said. “If you do that you will come out winners regardless of what the score is on the scoreboard.”
Ragland retired from his draftsman position at Appalachian Power at 60 in 1995. He and his wife, Becky, have been married 54 years, and have three children and four grandchildren.
AEP provides a pay differential for its employees in the Reserves and National Guard to attend mandatory training undertaken to maintain current military status. Recognizing recent changes in military training requirements, this reimbursement will no longer be subject to a limit of 10 days per year nor a one-year employment requirement.
The eligible training now includes weekend, or a series of weekends in addition to the week-long training previously included. It must occur during regularly scheduled work hours and work days to be considered for the differential. The pay differential will be equal to the difference between the military pay earned during the required training and the amount of the employee’s AEP annual base salary.
The revised policy became effective November 1, 2014.
“AEP is proud of our employees who serve in the military and appreciates the sacrifices they make for our country,” said Scott Smith, senior vice president – AEP Transmission Grid Development & Portfolio Services. “These benefit enhancements were made due to feedback from the AEP Military Veterans Employee Resource Group, and they add to the many ways that AEP supports its employees who must periodically participate in military training activities.”
AEP has approximately 1,882 employees who have served or are serving in the military out of its employee population of approximately 18,138.