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May Retirements

And, we are back. I will posting the May, June, July and August retirements separately because there is a huge backlog (more than 200). Thanks for being patient and helping to get this rolling again.

Indiana

Penny Knepple retired 5/2/2019 from South Bend Service Center, South Bend, IN, after 35 years

John Pastre retired 5/3/2019 from Ft Wayne One Summit Square, Ft. Wayne, IN, after 29 years

Kentucky

Lloyd Rayburn retired 5/1/2019 from Robert E Matthews Service Cent, Ashland, KY, after 41 years

Charles Tackett retired 5/1/2019 from Robert E Matthews Service Cent, Ashland, KY, after 37 years

Louisiana

William Aton retired 5/1/2019 from Dolet Hills Lignite, Mansfield, LA, after 29 years

Calvin Allred retired 5/17/2019 from Shreveport Operations, Shreveport, LA, after 37 years

Clarence Jones retired 5/31/2019 from Mansfield Service Center, Mansfield, LA, after 39 years

Michigan

David Antos retired 5/5/2019 from Cook Nuclear Plant, Bridgman, MI, after 33 years

Steven Thompson retired 5/8/2019 from Cook Nuclear Plant, Bridgman, MI, after 27 years

Harold Gibson retired 5/11/2019 from Cook Nuclear Plant, Bridgman, MI, after 29 years

John Ouellette retired 5/17/2019 from Cook Material Center, Bridgman, MI, after 33 years

Theresa Greer retired 5/21/2019 from Cook Nuclear Plant, Bridgman, MI, after 10 years

Janice Page retired 5/21/2019 from Cook Nuclear Plant, Bridgman, MI, after 10 years

Douglas Dunn retired 5/22/2019 from Cook Nuclear Plant, Bridgman, MI, after 10 years

Steven Seawood retired 5/22/2019 from Cook Nuclear Plant, Bridgman, MI, after 10 years

Timothy Alti retired 5/24/2019 from Cook Nuclear Plant, Bridgman, MI, after 17 years

Ohio

Melody Baltzer retired 5/1/2019 from AEP Headquarters, Columbus, OH, after 38 years

Brian Hendrickson retired 5/1/2019 from AEP Headquarters, Columbus, OH, after 20 years

William Kirkpatrick retired 5/1/2019 from Steubenville Service Center, Steubenville, OH, after 40 years

Michael Clark retired 5/1/2019 from Kenton Service Center, Kenton, OH, after 25 years

Rodney Sloneker retired 5/1/2019 from AEPOH 700 Building Gahanna, Gahanna, OH, after 35 years

Jeffrey Novotny retired 5/4/2019 from AEP Headquarters, Columbus, OH, after 39 years

James Hasselbach retired 5/9/2019 from Tiffin Service Center, Tiffin, OH, after 31 years

Rodney Burnham retired 5/11/2019 from AEP Headquarters, Columbus, OH, after 35 years

James Rosing retired 5/11/2019 from AEP Headquarters, Columbus, OH, after 33 years

Melva Lutton retired 5/30/2019 from AEP Headquarters, Columbus, OH, after 29 years

Oklahoma

Larry Benefield retired 5/1/2019 from Lawton Operations Center, Lawton, OK, after 33 years

James Sellmeyer retired 5/1/2019 from McAlester Operations Center, McAlester, OK, after 45 years

Rodney Allen retired 5/3/2019 from Northeastern Station 1&2, Oologah, OK, after 28 years

Robert Bonnet retired 5/4/2019 from McAlester Operations Center, McAlester, OK, after 34 years

Rex Kemp retired 5/18/2019 from Tulsa General Office, Tulsa, OK, after 27 years

Tennessee

Donald Abernathy retired 5/1/2019 from Kingsport Service Center, Kingsport, TN, after 38 years

Texas

Daniel Garcia retired 5/1/2019 from Lon Hill Service Center, Corpus Christi, TX, after 48 years

Raul Martinez retired 5/1/2019 from Aransas Pass Service Center, Aransas Pass, TX, after 37 years

Matthew Sikes retired 5/1/2019 from Pleasanton Area Office, Pleasanton, TX, after 34 years

Catarino Enciso retired 5/4/2019 from McCamey Service Center, McCamey, TX, after 36 years

Gary Adams retired 5/11/2019 from San Angelo Services, San Angelo, TX, after 32 years

John Hudson retired 5/15/2019 from General Office, Abilene, TX, after 20 years

Michael Wilkinson retired 5/18/2019 from Home Worksite-Texas, TX, after 26 years

Gerardo Resendez retired 5/18/2019 from Corpus Christi Service Center, Corpus Christi, TX, after 25 years

R Proffitt retired 5/18/2019 from Childress, TX, after 31 years

Barbara Lund retired 5/25/2019 from Home Office, Corpus Christi, TX, after 18 years

Jonathan Toland retired 5/31/2019 from Pirkey Plant, Hallsville, TX, after 34 years

Virginia

David Morris retired 5/1/2019 from Roanoke Service Building., Roanoke, VA, after 40 years

Garry Bowles retired 5/1/2019 from John W. Vaughan Center, Roanoke, VA, after 40 years

David McFaden retired 5/2/2019 from Lynchburg Service Center, Lynchburg, VA, after 39 years

Daniel Cronk retired 5/11/2019 from Floyd Service Center, Floyd, VA, after 36 years

Timothy Carter retired 5/16/2019 from Tazewell Service Center, Tazewell, VA, after 39 years

West Virginia

Richard Kedward retired 5/1/2019 from Mitchell Plant, Cresap, WV, after 42 years

Holland Kennedy retired 5/1/2019 from St Albans Office & Service Center, St. Albans, WV, after 37 years

Timothy Howard retired 5/1/2019 from Mountaineer Plant, New Haven, WV, after 38 years

John Coleman retired 5/1/2019 from Huntington Service Center, Huntington, WV, after 48 years

Alan Hudson retired 5/1/2019 from Amos Plant, Winfield, WV, after 39 years

Brenda Hill retired 5/1/2019 from Mountaineer Plant, New Haven, WV, after 40 years

Steven Long retired 5/1/2019 from Mitchell Plant, Cresap, WV, after 41 years

Randall Ransbottom retired 5/4/2019 from Huntington Service Center, Huntington, WV, after 40 years

Matthew Dow retired 5/18/2019 from Amos Plant, Winfield, WV, after 39 years

Ronald Kinniard retired 5/18/2019 from Pt Pleasant Office & Service Center, Pt. Pleasant, WV, after 43 years

Paul Crow retired 5/18/2019 from Wheeling Service Building, Wheeling, WV, after 39 years

James Jones retired 5/28/2019 from River Trans Division, West Columbia, WV, after 16 years

May-August Obituaries

Indiana

John Hunter, 75, Muncie Service Center, Muncie, IN, died 5/9/2019

Robert Connelly, 75, Northeast Service Center, New Haven, IN, died 5/1/2019

Paul Molden, 79, Elkhart Office/Service Building, Elkhart, IN, died 6/7/2019

Robert Mitchell, 87, Tanners Creek Plant, Lawrenceburg, IN, died 5/11/2019

Sam Good, 90, Marion Service Center, Marion, IN, died 5/15/2019

Phillip Rust, 85, Marion Service Center, Marion, IN, died 6/9/2019

Don Guenin, 74, Marion Service Center, Marion, IN, died 4/24/2019

Victor Gilreath, 89, Ft Wayne One Summit Square, Ft. Wayne, IN, died 5/22/2019

Robert Hetherington, 91, Spy Run Building. #3, Ft. Wayne, IN, died 4/14/2019

Kentucky

John Ruggles, 61, Big Sandy Plant, Louisa, KY, died 6/7/2019

Larry Johnson, 67, Big Sandy Plant, Louisa, KY, died 5/17/2019

Louisiana

Elaine Byrd, 83, Shreveport General Office, Shreveport, LA, died 6/19/2019

Michigan

Barbara Allen, 75, Cook Nuclear Plant, Bridgman, MI, died 6/16/2019

Ohio

Wendell Butz, 63, Telecommunications, Groveport, OH, died 5/9/2019

David Cooper, 53, Columbus Region Office, Columbus, OH, died 5/18/2019

Mary Gant, 67, Newark Service Building, Newark, OH, died 6/16/2019

David Vick, 71, Bucyrus Service Center, Bucyrus, OH, died 5/16/2019

Antoinette West, 72, 700 Building, Gahanna, OH, died 5/26/2019

Ronald Hempfield, 74, Mt Vernon Service Building, Mt. Vernon, OH, died 5/27/2019

Steven Mault, 76, Portsmouth Service Center, Portsmouth, OH, died 6/16/2019

Donna Mahoney, 76, AEP Headquarters, Columbus, OH, died 5/24/2019

Albert Moeller, 74, AEP Headquarters, Columbus, OH, died 6/13/2019

Kazimierz Niewiadomski, 90, AEP Headquarters, Columbus, OH, died 4/25/2019

Vito Fortunato, 89, AEP Headquarters, Columbus, OH, died 5/2/2019

Anup Singh, 79, AEP Headquarters, Columbus, OH, died 5/18/2019

James Barnett, 90, AEP Headquarters, Columbus, OH, died 6/9/2019

Warren Vaughan, 75, AEP Headquarters, Columbus, OH, died 6/14/2019

Carrington Mikels, 83, 850 Tech Center Building, Gahanna, OH, died 6/20/2019

Robert Young, 78, Van Wert Service Center, Van Wert, OH, died 5/7/2019

Donald Mercer, 81, Chillicothe Office, Chillicothe, OH, died 4/25/2019

Francis Dearth, 86, Chillicothe Office, Chillicothe, OH, died 5/22/2019

Edgar Ginther, 94, Muskingum River, Waterford, OH, died 5/4/2019

Leslie Wonderleigh, 98, Chillicothe Office, Chillicothe, OH, died 5/3/2019

David Robertson, 74, Canton South Service Center, Canton, OH, died 5/19/2019

William Riley, 83, Columbus NE Service Center, Columbus, OH, died 5/31/2019

Robert Young, 94, Belmont Office & Service Building, St. Clairsville, OH, died 5/10/2019

Richard Swisher, 84, Findlay Service Center, Findlay, OH, died 5/12/2019

Richard Rohrbaugh, 82, 850 Tech Center Building, Gahanna, OH, died 6/18/2019

Larry Aguirre, 62, AEP Headquarters, Columbus, OH, died 5/30/2019

James Jauert, 74, Central Operations Center, Groveport, OH, died 8/22/2019

Oklahoma

Frances Fleming, 77, Tulsa General Office, Tulsa, OK, died 5/20/2019

Jackie Rhodes, 87, Tulsa General Office, Tulsa, OK, died 4/18/2019

Norma Boyce, 83, Tulsa General Office, Tulsa, OK, died 6/4/2019

Texas

John Jones, 75, Eastex Cogen Facility, Longview, TX, died 6/19/2019

Nick Bomba, 90, Home Office, Corpus Christi, TX, died 5/7/2019

William Copple, 81, Home Office, Corpus Christi, TX, died 5/24/2019

Elmo Garza, 61, Corpus Christi Service Center, Corpus Christi, TX, died 8/29/2019

Everett Marsh, 72, Uvalde Service Center, Uvalde, TX, died 5/13/2019

Osvaldo Rodriguez, 74, Eagle Pass Service Center, Eagle Pass, TX, died 5/24/2019

John Rush, 91, Home Office, Corpus Christi, TX, died 6/12/2019

A.C. Wylie, 95, Home Office, Corpus Christi, TX, died 6/15/2019

Robert Young, 79, Home Office, Corpus Christi, TX, died 5/11/2019

Steave Webb, 72, Longview, Longview, TX, died 4/26/2019

Pat Sammons, 86, General Office, Abilene, TX, died 5/27/2019

Virginia

Douglas Brown, 74, Lebanon Office & Service Center, Lebanon, VA, died 5/9/2019

Paul Sauls, 76, Marion Office, Marion, VA, died 6/12/2019

Roxana Rasmussen, 80, Roanoke Main Office, Roanoke, VA, died 5/15/2019

Richard Tickle, 79, SW Regional Office, Wytheville, VA, died 5/14/2019

Jack Hawks, 87, Tazewell Service Center, Tazewell, VA, died 6/13/2019

Kathleen Hudson, 102, Lynchburg Office, Lynchburg, VA, died 4/25/2019

David Spivey, 86, Pulaski Service Center, Pulaski, VA, died 4/14/2019

West Virginia

Stephen Erwin, 63, Amos Plant, Winfield, WV, died 8/14/2019

Walter Smith, 70, Winfield Hydro, Winfield, WV, died 5/5/2019

Richard Woods, 73, Wheeling Service Building, Wheeling, WV, died 5/6/2019

Burton Hickman, 78, Sporn Plant, New Haven, WV, died 6/15/2019

Charlotte Wren, 83, Sporn Plant, New Haven, WV, died 6/11/2019

Charles Wagner, 70, Mountaineer Plant, New Haven, WV, died 5/23/2019

Gilbert Smith, 89, Charleston Office, Charleston, WV, died 6/19/2019

Richard Mills, 88, Kammer, Moundsville, WV, died 5/25/2019

Glenn Smith, 82, Wheeling Office, Wheeling, WV, died 4/25/2019

Billy Clark, 82, Amos Plant, Winfield, WV, died 4/28/2019

Ernest Colegrove, 84, Huntington Office, Huntington, WV, died 5/27/2019

William Sexton, 97, Bluefield Office, Bluefield, WV, died 5/30/2019

John Rottgen, 85, Sporn Plant, New Haven, WV, died 6/14/2019

Thomas Ward, 87, Mitchell Plant, Cresap, WV, died 5/19/2019

Curtis Kinneer, 81, Cross Lanes Office, Cross Lanes, WV, died 6/1/2019

X.D. Bruning, 34, River Transportation Division, West Columbia, WV, died 7/13/2019

AEP Texas Employee Continues to Give Back to His Community

Gonzalez, family members and friends delivered school backpacks to Ed Downs Fine Arts Academy in San Benito.

SAN BENITO, Texas — Victor Gonzalez, service mechanic in San Benito, always knew that when he was in a position to help his fellow man, he would not hesitate to do it.

“I grew up poor,” Gonzalez said. “And now that I can help my community, I do it in any way I can. Whether it is a benefit barbecue or anything else I can do, I will always try to help. If someone does not step up and take the lead, no one will. You just have to talk to people and share ideas. It will all fall into place and it will happen.’

Gonzalez, his wife Marisela, and their friends David and Julie Figueroa, made it happen a couple of weeks ago. They donated 200 backpacks filled with school supplies to Ed Downs Fine Arts Academy in San Benito.

“My mother-in-law helped us with 40 backpacks then David and Julie donated 60 more to make 100,” Gonzalez said. “We bought the other 100 backpacks and our family and friends helped us out, too, by donating the school supplies.”

Gonzalez stored all the backpacks and supplies at his home. A giant assembly line of friends and family helped to fill the backpacks. Gonzalez, his wife and their friends delivered the backpacks.

Victor Gonzalez

“We knew there were a lot of kids that were less fortunate at that school,” Gonzalez said. “It was very rewarding to go deliver backpacks. One mother cried when we they registered for school because she did not expect her kids to get backpacks and supplies.”

This is not the first time Gonzalez has rallied friends and family to give back to his San Benito Community. In November, Gonzalez recruited the help of the city of San Benito and the San Benito school district to identify 30 needy families. Gonzalez then purchased 30 turkeys and asked for donations from his fellow employees at the San Benito Service Center to make Thanksgiving baskets. Two days before Thanksgiving Day, Gonzalez drove around town in his pickup delivering the food baskets.

Gonzalez also regularly organizes barbecue chicken plate fundraisers for organizations or families in need of financial help. Gonzalez donates the chicken and his time and asks for nothing in return. He has helped many families cover medical and funeral expenses in the past.

“If you stop and look around, there’s a lot of need,” Gonzalez said. “It’s very rewarding to be able to help others in need. When people get down on their luck or need help, it’s good to see a community rally around them and help them out.”

Earlier this year, Gonzalez was recognized with a place in the Rio Grande Valley’s Walk of Fame.

Every year during Borderfest, a spring cultural festival in the border town of Hidalgo, cities and chambers of commerce from across the Rio Grande Valley nominate individuals who have made significant civic contributions and made a difference in the RGV to the Walk of Fame.

San Benito Mayor Ben Gomez nominated Gonzalez for the honor.

“Victor has always helped this community,” Gomez said. “Even before I was mayor, Victor was helping in Christmas time buying gifts for kids or ornaments and decorations. He always found a way to help. He is my appointee to the special events board with the city and it takes a lot of work to be a volunteer. There is no salary so he does it because he loves his community and wants to help. That’s why I nominated him.”

Sector Themes Heading into the Second Half of 2019

If there was ever a time for a break on Wall Street, August would be the time. Once Labor Day passes, investors dial back in and turn their attention toward company updates. Intensity increases in the months leading up to the industry’s EEI Financial Conference in November where AEP will release details on 2020 earnings targets, updated capital forecast plans and other financial indicators. This Street Wise edition summarizes current sector themes commanding investor attention for the second half of 2019, including economic uncertainty in addition to the impact of lower interest rates on pending rate cases.

Economic Uncertainty and the U.S.-China Trade War

When the economy slows and uncertainty presents itself, defensive stocks such as utilities appeal to investors.

According to Neil Kalton of Wells Fargo Equity Research, “The utility sector continues to benefit from low interest rates and economic uncertainty. The utility sector keeps chugging along boosted by declining long-term interest rates (good for valuations) and strengthening fundamentals (healthy capital expenditure visibility plus improving regulatory compacts). The sector looks attractive relative to long-term interest rates and continues to offer investors a nice anchor in the portfolio in the face of intensifying macroeconomic uncertainties.”

Slowing industrial demand has been a byproduct of the trade war between the U.S. and China and impacts utilities with industrial consumers who rely on exports.

Steve Fleishman of Wolfe Research noted the following, “Second quarter sales showed further industrial sales weakening. AEP, Southern Company and others specifically called out the impact of tariffs and related export weakness on sales. A bright spot continues to be sales to energy customers but this seems due for a pause in the second half of 2019 as we see more production slowdowns. Residential and commercial sales held up better, weather normalized, and they are higher margin customers. Job growth and high consumer confidence are helping. Nonetheless, we worry these could also trend down if the economy weakens.”

Andrew Weisel of Scotiabank also touched on the impact of lower industrial demand stating that, “A utility’s earnings per share (EPS) growth is not largely driven by load growth, but rather capital expenditures and ability to earn the allowed return on equity (ROE). Moreover, industrial sales are lower margin. Still, over time, lower demand could drive questions around affordability and/or the need to add generation, net of retirements.” However, Andrew further notes that although EPS could potentially take a hit, utilities’ Price to Earnings ratio (P/E) could trend upwards due to a macroeconomic slowdown.

Low Interest Rates Compared to Authorized ROE

A frequent question among investors is whether lower interest rates will put downward pressure on authorized ROEs in pending rate cases. While interest rates do not move in unison with the federal funds rate and ROEs tend to be less reactive when interest rates go up or down, authorized returns have generally trended in the same direction as interest rates over time.

According to Neil Kalton of Wells Fargo Equity Research, “Since 2015, average allowed ROEs for electric utilities have been very sticky in the 9.6 to 9.7% range as (1) overall customer rate increases have been modest given low gas prices, falling renewable prices and the benefits of tax reform and (2) utilities continue to invest in the local economies and can deploy capital into the state(s) that provide the highest economic incentive to do so. While we expect these factors will continue to support ROEs near the current levels, we would not be surprised to see a resumption of the pre-2016 trend of gradual reductions in the 10 to 20 basis point range.”

Julien Dumoulin-Smith of Bank of America Merrill Lynch noted, “While ROEs do not necessarily move in lock-step with U.S. 30-year treasury yields given a variety of factors (for example rate case timing), authorized returns have clearly followed the same trend as long-term interest rates. According to Regulatory Research Associates data, the average authorized ROE for electric general rate cases was 9.57% in first half of 2019 (versus 9.56% in 2018). We highlight that with 30-year treasury yields now 60 to 80 basis points below levels seen during the first half of 2019, we perceive an increased risk of a reduction in authorized ROEs in pending rate cases.”

Upcoming Events

This week, Investor Relations will accompany Brian Tierney (executive vice president and chief financial officer) and Julie Sloat (senior vice president, Treasury and Risk) in conducting one-on-one meetings with investors at the Barclays Energy-Power Conference on Sept. 4 in New York City. The following day, Tierney and Sloat will also attend meetings with S&P along with the members of the Investor Relations and Finance teams.

*****

Watch for future Street Wise editions discussing earnings and regulatory updates related to AEP and the electric utility industry.

The material contained within Street Wise is for informational purposes only. It is not, and should not be regarded as, investment advice or as a recommendation regarding any particular security or course of action, including actions in relation to equity or debt securities of AEP or its subsidiaries. You should consult financial advisors with respect to investments.

([View] the Street Wise archive.)

AEP closed at $91.15 Aug. 30, posting a total return of 1.02% since Aug. 16. During the same period, the S&P Electric Utilities Index total return was 2.09%, and the S&P 500 Index total return was 1.38%.

On the Road: An EV newbie’s trip across Louisiana (Part I)

Editor's Note: In this three-part series, read Jeff Thigpen’s thoughts on driving the fully electric Nissan Leaf before, during and after his road trip across Louisiana.

SWEPCO Energy Efficiency & Consumer Program Coordinator Jeff Thigpen on the road with the 2019 Nissan Leaf Plus.

Friday, July 5, 2019

I’m a member of SWEPCO’s Energy Efficiency & Consumer Programs team in Shreveport, Louisiana. In an effort to learn more about electric vehicles (EVs) in general, and the Nissan Leaf in particular, SWEPCO is exploring the possibility of leasing a Leaf. Driving an EV on a regular basis will give us hands-on learning experience as well as insight on the current state of EV charging infrastructure in our service territory. Specifically, the lack of charging locations along I-20 and I-49 as well as in our communities, and what this really means for an EV owner.

SWEPCO soon will co-host an Electric Vehicle Charging Corridor Roundtable and wanted to have an EV available for the participants to look over and maybe take for a spin. While trying to secure a lease vehicle, time was quickly running out with the scheduled EV event fast approaching. Through the generosity of Nissan-USA, SWEPCO is being loaned a 2019 Nissan Leaf Plus for a couple of weeks, which will be long enough for us to get past the event. The one catch was the chosen loaner vehicle was sitting in Metairie, LA, some 320 miles from Shreveport.

Being the adventurous type, and finding myself without a lot of adventure lately, I volunteered to be the guinea pig from our group, I mean, the driver for this little excursion. The Leaf Plus is advertised as having a range of up to 226 miles. As I read into this estimate a little further, I found out this number assumes the majority of miles are driven at relatively slow speeds in and around town. This does not exactly match up with what my trip from Metairie to Shreveport will be like. This route is mostly interstate with speed limits of 70 and 75 mph.

Earlier I stated I was of the adventurous type, but I should also say I tend to lean a little toward the side of caution. In my younger days, I had a commercial pilot’s license. Flying requires a lot of preplanning to stay out of trouble. I can see how this trip is going to revive some of the thought processes used in aviation trip planning.

In the internal combustion engine travel world we live in today, we rarely put much thought into the trip itself. We know where we are going, but few other details about the route. We may check the tires and even change the oil before a cross-country trip, but I doubt many of us put any real thought into where we will refuel. There’s even less concern that wherever we are going, fuel might not be readily available or at least a quick refuel stop might not be available.

We just set the GPS and drive until the tank is about dry and we stop for fuel. No thought needed because fuel is always just a short distance ahead of us. Having readily available fueling stations everywhere you look is the primary factor that allows our nation to be so mobile. We make a quick stop for fuel and a break, and we are off down the road again.

Not all trips in an EV are cross-country or cross-state travel. Most EV models can easily serve the role of city commuter and errand-running machine, but at this time, they are not ideal for driving long distances. A true road trip is going to require a little more thought. At least that’s how I see it. Remember, I am an EV newbie and am learning with every step, or push of the pedal.

Since I feel confident that highway speeds will consume energy faster than slow city driving, the true range of the car could be considerably less than the published 226 miles. With no real desire to spend time sitting on the side of the road with a dead battery, waiting for rescue, I am taking a conservative approach and will begin the trip assuming the Leaf Plus will have a true range at highway speeds of about 150 miles. I hope I am underestimating this little car, but I will need to be convinced first.

My trip will begin with me picking up a rental car and driving to Metairie from Shreveport. My plan is to arrive at Premiere Nissan in Metairie around noon on Monday, July 8, 2019. Once I take possession of the Leaf, assuming it will be 100% charged, I intend to drive to the Electrify America charging station at the Walmart in Breaux Bridge, which is 117 miles from Metairie. This is a Level 3 charger, which the Leaf is equipped to plug into. This leg will be on I-10 and I plan to drive the Leaf at 70 mph and closely observe how the battery holds up. If my calculations are correct, I should arrive at this first stop with a little more than 20% of battery life remaining. I expect the charge time at Breaux Bridge to be about an hour.

The second leg of my trip will be up I-49 to Alexandria, LA, to the charging station in the parking lot of the Fairfield Inn. As the only available charging stations in Alexandria are the J1772 Level 2 stations, with assumed charging speeds of 20-25 mph, I will need to be here several hours to get enough charge to get on to Shreveport. I think it could take on a full charge in 4 to 5 hours, but I just do not know yet. Since my day will have started early, I have planned to spend the night and get a full battery charge. I’ll leave for Shreveport first thing Tuesday morning.

The final leg on into Shreveport is about 129 miles. I hope that I can make that jump without issue.

This story originally appeared 7/19/2019 on SWEPCO Now.

On the Road: An EV newbie’s trip across Louisiana (Part II)

Editor’s Note: In this three-part series, read Jeff Thigpen’s thoughts on driving the fully electric Nissan Leaf before, during and after his road trip across Louisiana. 

SWEPCO Energy Efficiency & Consumer Program Coordinator Jeff Thigpen at the Level 3 Charging Station in Breaux Bridge.

Monday, July 8, 2019

Last night, I picked up the rental car and left this morning at 6:15 in route to Metairie, Louisiana. I dropped the rental car off at Enterprise and they were nice enough to give me a ride to Premiere Nissan, a short distance down the road. The manager at the dealership handed over the keys and a salesperson gave me a quick overview of the car, we shook hands and I was on my own. As promised, the car was at 100% charge.

My first impressions of the Nissan Leaf were that this is a nice looking car, both inside and out. This particular model is the Leaf Plus SL version. It has just about everything you can get on any well-equipped car, including a heated steering wheel and heated seats. I was immediately impressed with the interior. I am 6’3”, 195 lbs. and felt comfortable the entire trip.

I opened the door and sat down. It was a HOT day in south Louisiana. Before I began to drive, I engaged the ‘Eco’ button. I had no desire to waste any energy on this first leg. I considered turning off the A/C, but it was 98 degrees with about 90% humidity. The cool air was winning out over my range anxiety, at least for now, so the A/C was staying on and I must say it worked quite well.

A look at the interior of the 2019 Nissan Leaf Plus.

Range anxiety, at least for me, was a very real thing. My research before the trip only mentioned range in broad terms and I never found what I was looking for. I wanted a metric that helped me understand what to expect for range with my immediate driving style, i.e. 70 mph with the A/C running, as one example.

I came up with a simple metric of miles traveled per battery percentage drop. In my mind, I wanted to have a feel for the energy consumed at a given speed. To get this number, I felt I could simply divide the miles driven by the percentage points reduced driving those miles. Example: For a 10% reduction in remaining battery life with 21 miles driven, I would have an ‘mppd’ (miles per percentage drop) of 2.1.

With this information, if I have 100% battery life remaining I should have a range of 210 miles at this speed, or with 30% battery life remaining, then I should be able to travel 63 miles at this speed, assuming all other conditions remain the same. This metric seemed straight forward enough to me, so I adopted this as a check and balance against the range the vehicle displayed.

The drive from Metairie to Breaux Bridge started with me going about a mile from the dealership and stopping for a quick lunch. Back in the car with my foot on the brake, I press the ‘Start’ button and all I hear is the A/C. I turned the A/C off and rolled down the front windows to experience how there really is nothing to hear. That was interesting, but I quickly rolled up the windows again and turned the A/C back on. Did I mention it is HOT? Within 2 minutes, I am on I-10 headed west toward Baton Rouge in heavy, but fast-moving traffic.

My nerves are high, but even with the drive mode set to ‘Eco’, which reduces the acceleration rate, the Leaf responded when I asked and easily jumped into the flow of traffic, never missing a beat. I nervously watched as the battery percentage level began to drop. Nothing dramatic or too worrisome, but a continual reminder that I need a charging station in mind as a destination, even if it is well down the road.

The leg went very well. I was showing an mppd as high as 2.22 (in a construction zone going about 40-45 mph) to a low of 1.06 at speeds of 75 mph. This low number seems to be an outlier though and may not be correct. For the most part, I was seeing around 1.9 miles for each percentage of battery drop, which is 190 miles of range on the highway. Pretty good but not the posted 226. My overall first driving experience in this EV was very positive. I now felt much better about the entire trip.

After driving 117 miles and arriving at the Electrify America charging station in the Walmart parking lot, I am pleasantly surprised to see the charging stations are vacant. At this location, there is one CHAdeMO ‘pump’ and five CCS/SAE ‘pumps’. I’m not sure what the actual charger is called, but it does somewhat resemble a gas pump, so I’ll use that term. The two hook-up types differ only in the plug/connect end of the charging cable.

The Nissan Leaf can accept a charge using either a J1772 Type 2 charger or a CHAdeMO Type 3 charger. It can also take a charge from a standard residential wall outlet, using the Nissan-provided adapter, but Level 1 charging is very slow, as in 24 to 36 hours to get a full charge. Level 2 chargers can normally provide a full charge in around 8 hours and the Level 3 chargers can usually charge to full capacity in less than an hour. These numbers will vary by EV make and model.

The Nissan Leaf has two charging ports, one for a J1772 Type 2 charger and another one for a CHAdeMO Type 3 charger.

I am happy to report that my initial assumption of 150 miles of highway range and that I would have about 20% charge remaining were both very low. I arrive at Breaux Bridge with 46% remaining and the Level 3 station charged the Leaf to 97% in 50 minutes. The charging speed is fastest when the battery charge is low. The charging speed drops off quickly when you get up around 80% to 90% charge when it begins to move at a crawl. I could have left earlier, but again I am being a little cautious and wanted a near full ‘tank’ before starting my second leg.

The 50 minutes passed quickly and I then headed for Alexandria. As I was leaving the parking lot, a man walking stepped out in front of me in the Leaf. A truck had just passed him and not hearing another vehicle, he assumed it was clear to walk. When he finally looked, I was close enough to startle him. I could see in the expression on his face he never heard the EV approach. These cars are very quiet!

A few miles from Breaux Bridge, I exited I-10 for I-49 and headed north. The drive to Alexandria was uneventful but for some reason, the range I was seeing was not as good. I drove part of this leg at 70 mph and part at 75 mph (not exceeding the speed limit), always with the A/C on. On this leg, however, I was seeing an ‘mppd’ from 1.57 to 1.74, meaning my highway range — at this speed and these conditions — was to be between 150-175 miles. I am not sure, but I think I might have had more headwind. Many factors can affect the range; including wind; how loaded the car is; extremely high or low temperatures. Even rain can have an effect.

I arrived at the Fairfield Inn in Alexandria around 5:30 pm to find the two J1772 Level 2 charging ‘pumps’ unoccupied and in perfect working order. I feel blessed that I have been able to charge without incident. I would have had to scramble and change plans if the stations were not operational.

I let the Leaf charge all night. I checked on it around 10pm and had charged from 49% to about 95% in around 4.5 hours. I think it would have been 100% charged in less than another hour or so, but I went on to bed and found it at 100% the next morning. I left for Shreveport around 7 a.m. and the miles per percentage drop for this leg ranged from 1.7 to 1.9, allowing from 170 to 190 highway miles of range.

As I drove along, I could not miss the irony of me cruising along the interstate in a very modern, all-electric vehicle while listening to Patsy Cline coming through the speakers. I like old country. It struck me that this trip, even though it seems foreign to me, would soon be a very common experience for many. If we as an electric utility are ready for this reality or not, it is coming quickly.

The major issue needing attention is the lack of Level 3 charging stations. Until these quick-charge stations are readily available along all major travel routes, it will remain a difficult hurdle that most travelers will not be willing to approach. In my opinion, a 30-minute charging session is completely acceptable and reasonable. A charging session of 4 to 6 hours, however, is not acceptable for most people’s schedules during a cross-country trip, unless that stop can be overnight.

This is a great car, it just happens to be a total electric vehicle requiring a little more planning if you intend to travel cross country. Cross country in this electric vehicle is very achievable, it just requires a little more thought and planning.

For in-town transportation, the Nissan Leaf would more than meet the needs and expectations for the vast majority of us. If the electric vehicle owner has access either at home or at work to a Level 2 charger and does not typically go more than 100 miles a day, this car is a near-perfect solution to fill the need.

I had fun and a little adventure to boot. At least for an old guy that likes this sort of thing.

This story originally appeared 7/26/2019 on SWEPCO Now.

On the Road: An EV newbie’s trip across Louisiana (Part III)

Editor’s Note: In this three-part series, read Jeff Thigpen’s thoughts on driving the fully electric Nissan Leaf before, during and after his road trip across Louisiana.

SWEPCO Energy Efficiency & Consumer Program Coordinator Jeff Thigpen in the 2019 Nissan Leaf Plus.

Friday, July 19, 2019

Being fortunate enough to live in the USA, we have at our disposal things most of our grandparents and their parents could not have dreamed. However, some came before us that dreamed big dreams and made amazing advancements that ultimately changed all of our lives for the better. With the industrial revolution came countless inventions that over time have made our lives easier and more comfortable. I consider myself blessed beyond my understanding. I have been out of this country a few times and I am amazed at what we have, and what we take for granted. One of the many things we love about our nation is the freedom to move about whenever and wherever we please. We are a mobile people and we love it. We expect it.

A major reason for the extreme mobility we have in our nation is the supporting infrastructure to keep vehicles moving, primarily fueling stations. I wasn’t around at the time, but when internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles were new, and few people had them, fuel availability had to have been a major concern. The electric vehicle (EV) owners of today face a similar situation, particularly if they have long-distance cross-country travel in mind.

With an ICE vehicle, fueling stations are literally available everywhere. Running out of gas is no longer a concern because a fueling station is always close by. This availability removes range anxiety from the equation and frees us up to go where we please. We simply jump in the vehicle and head off down the road. We will only think about refueling when the tank is about empty. We often just wait for the low fuel indicator light and in a few minutes, pull into the nearest station or pass by a few because you prefer one over another. With the current state of EV charging locations, this is not always possible.

For a commuter vehicle, an EV is an easy choice because you can set up a charger at home and simply charge at night and be ready for the next day. If you are lucky enough to have charging stations at your place of employment, you can charge while at work. However, if you want to travel in your EV, the charging infrastructure is not as robust as it needs to be. For cross-country travel, it is critical to know the true range of your EV.

Before my trip began, I came up with a simple metric of miles traveled per battery percentage drop. I wanted to have a feel for the energy consumed at a given speed. More specifically, how did my current driving affect the total available range? It sounded reasonable to me that I could simply divide the miles driven by the battery percentage points reduced while driving those miles. Example: For a 10% reduction in remaining battery life with 21 miles driven, I would have an ‘mppd’ (miles per percentage drop- my term) of 2.1. With this information, if I have 100% battery life remaining I should have a range of 210 miles at these driving conditions, or with 30% battery life remaining, then I should be able to travel 63 miles at this speed, assuming all other conditions remain the same.

MPPD turned out to be a very useful and reassuring measuring stick for me. I continually used this during the entire trip. This way of seeing the true range at my current driving conditions may not seem important to others, but I am finding it very useful. This may be something already used in the industry, but I never found it or anything like it in my reading. This logic, or something similar, is most likely already in use in the cars’ computer now to estimate range; I just never saw it in the available displayed information. I would actually propose that manufactures include this in the dashboard displays going forward. I know they didn’t ask me, but there it is anyway.

Things I learned over this past two weeks.

  1. If you want an all-electric vehicle, it does not have to be a tiny box with wheels, nor do you have to compromise on creature comforts. This car is available with the very nice, high-end features most have come to expect, including heated leather seats and steering wheel, power everything, GPS and a myriad of safety features. This is a very comfortable, well-appointed vehicle. Go figure!
  2. All EV drive systems draw their energy from a large main drive battery. The one in the Nissan Leaf Plus is a 300-volt system mounted under the floorboards. I recently learned most EVs also have a 12-volt battery system, which provides energy to the car’s accessories, i.e. the A/C, radio, heated seats, etc. At least in the Leaf’s case, this 12-volt battery is under the hood where you would normally expect to see a battery and is charged only when the vehicle is moving.
  3. This is a fun driving experience. Disengage the ‘Eco’ mode and this car will take off. Nissan says it has 215 horsepower and can do zero to 60 in 6.4 seconds. I can’t swear that number is correct, but I know if you ask the car, it will jump. That’s all I have to say about that.
  4. It is an easy car to learn to drive. The transition is a near-seamless one. I think there are two initial ‘wow moments’ and you almost instantly fall in love with both. The first is when you put your foot on the brake and press the start button. The only thing that seems to happen is the interior gauges and instrumentation come to life. The second ‘wow moment’ is after you put it in drive and press the accelerator and the car moves and you hear nothing. I am serious when I tell you if the A/C and radio are off, there is no noise as you drive away. This is a very strange experience for most of us, but everyone I have seen in the car enjoys it.
  5. Range is a relative term and varies depending on how you drive the car. Aggressive driving in the non-Eco mode uses energy faster than more conservative driving. Having the A/C on, even though a necessity around here in the summer, uses more energy. Driving at higher speeds uses more than driving at lower speeds. Allowing the car to take advantage of the regenerative braking option saves energy. As with a gasoline car, part of the efficiency is up to you.
  6. Range anxiety is a real thing, but it diminishes quickly. My confidence in this car continues to grow and the very real range anxiety I felt when I first sat down has all but gone away. That anxiety has been replaced with enough knowledge to plan a cross-country trip, knowing there can and likely will be delays along the route due to charging availability and speed. This is simply because the infrastructure is not in place yet.
  7. We should collectively embrace this new technology. Every reasonable, thinking person has some concerns over new and different experiences. That little voice that pleads for caution is a good thing but should be balanced with good information. As with most things, education is the key to moving forward. Good information is valuable and can typically only be obtained through real experiences. Many things are changing quickly in the world we live in, including transportation. The way we have done it forever is not the only way it can be done. Personally, I don’t see the internal combustion engine going the way of the dinosaur. What I do see is the EV technology advancing and the supporting infrastructure developing to the point that we have another viable travel option that allows us the freedom to come and go as we please. As I said earlier, this is what we as Americans expect. EVs are a fast-approaching reality. Maybe not in every garage, but in many. I am excited to see it all grow to its potential.
  8. We need more Level 3 fast-charging stations. As I write this, it isn’t impossible to travel a long distance in an EV, but it can be challenging. The true need is for more fast charge locations, both inside cities and especially along major travel routes. For SWEPCO’s service territory, we need at least one Level 3 station in Shreveport, one in Natchitoches and one in Longview. Arkansas currently has three Level 3 stations-one each in Hope, Little Rock and in the Fayetteville area. So it is possible to traverse the state with some planning, but an additional Level 3 station in the Fort Smith area would open up the western edge of the state to more EV travel. When these stations are available, and they will be, the barriers to quick cross-country travel will begin to fall and more people will actively embrace the change.

My advice is for all of us to learn more about electric vehicles in general. Read about the technology and seek out the experiences of others. Find an EV, look it over and drive it. I think you will be impressed. I will wager you will at least be surprised, and in a good way. Every technology has its limitations. Understanding those limitations and working to reduce or eliminate barriers is how we progress.

Fifty years ago this month, astronauts first set foot on the moon. That was possible because there was a group of people who believed in the technology and worked through the barriers and roadblocks. They refused to say it was too hard. They refused to listen to those that said it would never happen. They knew it needed to happen and found a way. Building a robust EV infrastructure is not space travel, nor is it even rocket science, but there are barriers and roadblocks. It’s actually pretty straight forward, and it needs to happen. Soon.

Jeff Thigpen

SWEPCO

This story originally appeared 8/2/2019 on SWEPCO Now.

Kentucky Power Names Phillips, Wiseman, Wohnhas, Vice Presidents

Everett Phillips

Three Kentucky Power managing directors have been named vice presidents of the company.

Everett Phillips, who oversees Distribution and Region Operations; Cindy Wiseman, who oversees External Affairs, Economic Development, Customer Service and Corporate Communications; and Ranie Wohnhas, who oversees Regulatory and Finance, are now vice presidents.

Brett Mattison, president and chief operating officer for Kentucky Power, announced the job title changes on Thursday. The changes are part of the company’s continuing efforts to position Kentucky Power for the future to improve efficiencies and operations, maximize business acumen, plan for growth and optimize the customer experience.

“Our industry is changing rapidly and Kentucky Power and all of AEP must adapt and change with it,” said Brett Mattison, president and chief operating officer of Kentucky Power. “We want to make sure we are positioning ourselves to be in the best place possible to serve our customers and grow the company.”

Cindy Wiseman

This organizational change better mirrors the leadership structure of other operating companies within the AEP family and will aid in elevating the company’s operations.

“We are preparing ourselves to be more proactive as we work to enhance Kentucky Power,” Mattison said.

Phillips started with AEP in 1985 as a distribution engineer in Huntington, West Virginia, for Appalachian Power. In 1994, he moved to Clintwood, Virginia, as the area distribution supervisor. In 1998, he moved to Pikeville, Kentucky as the distribution line superintendent overseeing the operations for Hazard and Pikeville districts of Kentucky Power.  In 2004, he moved to Ashland to head up the distribution operations for Kentucky Power and has been leading the distribution group since.

Ranie Wohnhas

Wiseman started with AEP in 2008 in corporate communications at Appalachian Power in Charleston, West Virginia, and later was named as an external affairs manager for the company. In 2018, she joined Kentucky Power as managing director of External Affairs and Customer Service. She also serves on the AEP Customer Experience board.

During his 40 years of service, Wohnhas has worked at three operating companies and the AEP Service Corporation in various customer service, accounting and regulatory functions.

He is responsible for all company regulatory filings with the Kentucky Public Service Commission and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, as well as all of Kentucky Power’s financial plans and financial operating results.

Akins Signs Business Roundtable ‘Statement on the Purpose of a Corporation’

Nick Akins, chairman, president and chief executive officer of American Electric Power, is one of about 180 executive members of the Business Roundtable who signed the group's recent 'Statement on the Purpose of a Corporation.'

"This statement reminds corporations, like AEP, that we serve stakeholders, not just shareholders," Akins said. "We have a long-term view on creating value for our investors and also our customers, the communities we are in, and the employees that make our success possible." 

The statement highlights five pillars that the companies commit to:

  • Delivering value to our customers. We will further the tradition of American companies leading the way in meeting or exceeding customer expectations.
  • Investing in our employees. This starts with compensating them fairly and providing important benefits. It also includes supporting them through training and education that help develop new skills for a rapidly changing world. We foster diversity and inclusion, dignity and respect.
  • Dealing fairly and ethically with our suppliers. We are dedicated to serving as good partners to the other companies, large and small, that help us meet our missions.
  • Supporting the communities in which we work. We respect the people in our communities and protect the environment by embracing sustainable practices across our businesses.
  • Generating long-term value for shareholders, who provide the capital that allows companies to invest, grow and innovate. We are committed to transparency and effective engagement with shareholders.

Executives from most of America's major corporations singed the statement, including the CEO's of Amazon, Apple, Duke Energy, the Southern Company, Exxon, Walmart, Proctor and Gamble, Chase, Boeing, Anthem, and many more.

To see the entire document and associated corporations and executives, click here.

Eight From AEP Selected to Attend WiNUP Annual Conference in Denver

Seven AEP employees and one retiree have been selected as winners of scholarships to attend the Women’s International Network of Utility Professionals (WiNUP) Annual Conference, to be held on October 7-9 in Denver, Colorado.

Conference attendees will be provided many developmental opportunities in the areas of energy, leadership, and community service.

AEP employee/retiree winners for the 2019 conference are:

Vivian Andrews, SWEPCO HR retiree (ArkLaTex Chapter, WiNUP)

Teresa Dearing, agilist lead, Information Technology, New Albany (non-member of WiNUP)

Misty Heldreth, customer services supervisor, Huntington, W.Va. (West Virginina Chapter, WiNUP)

Judy Hurd, business services account manager sr., Charleston, W.Va. (West Virginia Chapter, WiNUP)

Tiana Rankin, functional system analyst, Chief Customer Officer, AEP Headquarters (Ohio Chapter, WiNUP)

Holly Reed, equipment operator, Rockport Plant, Rockport, Ind. (Indiana Chapter, WiNUP)

Pa Vang, administrative assistant sr., Flint Creek Power Station, Gentry, Ark. (ArkLaTex Chapter, WiNUP)

Melissa Wiltrout, coordinator sr., GBS BPS Business Planning, AEP Headquarters (Ohio Chapter, WiNUP)

WiNUP is an association dedicated to providing professional development, networking and mentoring for women in the utility and energy industries.

For more conference information, visit WINUP.org.