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Loose in the School: APCo Readers, Gingerbread Man Unleashed on Hundreds of Schools

(Story by Jeri Matheney)

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A gingerbread man running through the halls makes for an exciting day at school. So does another kind of visitor in the school – an Appalachian Power employee who’s come to read a story!

Almost 17,000 elementary students in West Virginia, Virginia and Tennessee were treated to just such a visit on Nov. 17. The visits were part of Read to Me Day, an annual event in which employees volunteer to read to students at schools throughout the company’s West Virginia, Virginia and Tennessee service territory.

This year, employees read the book, “The Gingerbread Man: Loose in the School,” by Laura Murray, a Virginia author. They then donated the book to the school library.

“It’s such a magical experience for kids to have someone come to their school just to read them a book. It’s so rewarding for our readers to witness that,” said [Charles Patton], Appalachian Power president and chief operating officer, and a volunteer reader at Weberwood Elementary in Charleston. “Our reason for devoting so much effort to Read to Me Day is to reach as many children as possible with the magic of a good story. Children who enjoy books will read more. Ultimately, they’ll be better readers and do better in school.

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“It’s always exciting to have a visitor in school,” Patton added. “And it’s certainly a big change from an ordinary day for our line mechanics, meter readers and call center representatives who volunteer to read. It makes for a memorable day for both the kids and the employees.”

This year, 314 readers read to students at 418 schools. First started in 2001, Read to Me Day coordinator Debby Pannell, corporate communications representative, estimates employees have read to more than 250,000 students and donated approximately 6,000 books over the 16 years of the program.

A social media hashtag, “RTMD2016,” helped schools and readers share their photos on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Dozens of photos were posted on Appalachian Power’s social media pages, plus photos from many more schools and readers were shared on the company’s pages. For a sample, go to Appalachian Power’s Facebook page, or on Facebook, search RTMD2016.

Usually, volunteer readers sport a new shirt with the Appalachian Power logo, given by the company in recognition of their volunteer effort. But this year, employees decided to instead put that money toward donations to libraries in flood-damaged areas of the state.

The Elk Valley and Clendenin branches of Kanawha County Library, the Clay County Library, the Walton Library in Roane County, and the Rainelle Library in Greenbrier County all received donations in the name of Appalachian Power readers. In all, the libraries received $8,000, which is designated to the children’s areas in each library.


AEP Service Corporation

Thomas Competti, 84, retired, AEP Headquarters, died Oct. 7.

Samuel Schwalb, 90, retired, AEP Headquarters, died Oct. 12.

Appalachian Power Company

Leo Cook, 75, retired, Beckley Service Center, died Oct. 23.

Everett Harris, 93, retired, Glen Lyn Plant, died Oct. 3.

Harry Jackson, 90, retired, Clinch River Plant, died Sept. 18.

Mary Kirby, 91, retired, Bluefield Office, died Oct. 9.

Keith Shahan, 70, Milton Service Center, died Oct. 13.

Jerry Smith, 77, retired, Pulaski Service Center, died Oct. 27.

Columbus Southern Power Company

Glenn Almy Jr., 81, retired, 850 Tech Center, died Sept. 24.

Richard Furr, 85, retired, 850 Tech Center, died Oct. 4.

Charles Johnson, 91, retired, Athens Service Center, died Oct. 4.

Thomas Ott, 80, retired, Conesville Plant, died Oct. 23.

Indiana Michigan Power Company

Frances Mitchell, 74, Cook Nuclear Plant, died Oct. 21.

Lois Roush, 90, retired, South Bend Service Center, died Oct. 21.

David Rumpf, 58, Cook Nuclear Plant, died Oct. 26.

Kentucky Power Company

Noah Ashby, 67, Robert E. Matthews Service Center, died Oct. 14.

Ohio Power Company

Juanita Looney, 86, retired, Portsmouth Service Center, died Oct. 13.

Howard Ludewig, 87, retired, Canton Eastern Regional Office, died Oct. 18.

Franklin Pierson, 69, Kammer Plant, died Sept. 29.

Donald Schilling, 85, retired, Gavin Plant, died Oct. 6.

James Shaffer, 97, retired, Canton Eastern Regional Office, died Oct. 10.

Glenn Spitznogle, 86, retired, Lancaster Office Building, died Sept. 29.

Public Service Company of Oklahoma

James Conway, 82, Tulsa General Office, died Oct. 4.

Southwestern Electric Power Company

David Crile, 65, Flint Creek Plant, died Oct. 14.

Texas Central

H.W. Bierley, 91, retired, Corpus Christi Office, died Sept. 28.

Robert Halberdier, 71, retired, Corpus Christi Office, died Oct. 2.

Alpha Kimes, 88, retired, Corpus Christi Office, died Oct. 1.

George McCarley, 73, Uvalde Service Center, died Oct. 16.

Joy Routh, 85, retired, Corpus Christi Office, died Sept. 20.

Texas North

James Estes, 87, retired, Abilene General Office, died Sept. 18.

James Hodge, 74, Abilene Distribution, died Sept. 26.

October Retirements

AEP Service Corporation

Charles Dreshman, AEP Headquarters, retired Oct. 29 after 29 years of service.

AEP Ohio

Jane Munnerlyn, Columbus Southeast Service Center, retired Oct. 28 after 30 years of service.

AEP Texas

Robert Jochims, Corpus Christi Office, retired Oct. 1 after 36 years of service.

Ysidoro Perez Jr., Aransas Pass Service Center, retired Oct. 8 after 37 years of service.

Appalachian Power Company

Olin Blain Jr., Central Machine Shop, retired Oct. 1 after 37 years of service.

Charles Boggess, Ripley Service Center, retired Oct. 19 after 36 years of service.

Randy Powell, Pineville Service Center, retired Oct. 1 after 34 years of service.


Carl Cunningham, Amos Plant, retired Oct. 22 after 27 years of service.

Bradford Jenkins, Cardinal Plant, retired Oct. 25 after 29 years of service.

Quenton Northcraft Jr., Cardinal Plant, retired Oct. 22 after 42 years of service.

Dwayne Robinson, Rockport Plant, retired Oct. 1 after 35 years of service.

Melvin Woods, Cardinal Plant, retired Oct. 29 after 35 years of service.

Indiana Michigan Power Company

Peter Chenosky, Buchanan Nuclear Generation Office, retired Oct. 1 after 23 years of service.

Susan Cox, One Summit Square, retired Oct. 29 after 29 years of service.

Public Service Company of Oklahoma

Melodie Bateman, Tulsa General Office, retired Oct. 1 after 38 years of service.

Michele Dittmeyer, Lawton Operations Center, retired Oct. 1 after 12 years of service.

Gaylynn Dyches, Tulsa General Office, retired Oct. 1 after 36 years of service.

Southwestern Electric Power Company

Hiram Hawley, Mt. Pleasant Service Center, retired Oct. 6 after 22 years of service.


Terry Gayheart, Canton South Service Center, retired Oct. 4 after 35 years of service.

James Hinton, Canton South Service Center, retired Oct. 4 after 31 years of service.

Howard Hypes Jr., Abingdon Transmission Building, retired Oct. 1 after 38 years of service.

Anthony Petrowsky Jr., AEP Transmission New Albany, retired Oct. 22 after 12 years of service.


Rozsa named to magazine’s All America Executive Team

Bette Jo Rozsa

For the first time ever, an AEP employee was named on Institutional Investor magazine’s 2017 All America Executive Team. The prestigious annual ranking recognizes the nation’s top corporate leaders as judged by investment professionals.

Bette Jo Rozsa, AEP managing director, Investor Relations, was named to the Executive Team, ranking third overall and second by the Sell Side as “Best Investor Relations Professional in Electric Utilities.” Jeff Kotkin from Eversource (Northeast Utilities) ranked first in the category and Scott Cunningham from Edison ranked second. In addition, AEP finished third overall in the “Most Honored Companies for Electric Utilities” category. NextEra finished first and Eversource finished 2nd.

“I want to congratulate Bette Jo on receiving this honor from the investment community. This is the first time anyone from AEP has ever been named in the rankings,” said Nick Akins, AEP chairman, president and chief executive officer. “Bette Jo’s recognition is a reflection of the work of our entire finance organization and many others to position AEP as the premier regulated energy company in the country.”

“Bette Jo and her team have done a phenomenal job sharing the AEP story with investors, managing their expectations and equipping our entire executive team with the strategic messaging we need to deliver to The Street,” added Brian Tierney, AEP executive vice president and chief financial officer. “Her leadership, counsel and professionalism have long been valued at AEP, and I’m thrilled that she is receiving this well-deserved recognition for all of the work she does to manage our corporate reputation and ensure that our corporate strategy and execution are well understood.”

Institutional Investor received unprecedented investor feedback in the Electric Utilities sector – 138 investors voted this year, up from 67 last year.

Online Shopping Safety Tips

onlinethumb(Story by Pamela Busby)

AEP Security is providing this article on behalf of US-CERT to help you stay safe online. 

Why do online shoppers have to take special precautions?

The Internet offers convenience not available from other shopping outlets. From the comfort of your home, you can search for items from multiple vendors, compare prices with a few mouse clicks, and make purchases without waiting in line. However, the Internet is also convenient for attackers, giving them multiple ways to access the personal and financial information of unsuspecting shoppers. Attackers who are able to obtain this information may use it for their own financial gain, either by making purchases themselves or by selling the information to someone else.

In Store Shopping Safety Tips

  • Try to shop during the day, but if you do shop at night, do not do it alone.
  • Park in well-lit areas.
  • Lock your car doors, close windows.
  • Place valuables out of sight before arriving at your destination.
  • Dress casually and comfortably.
  • Avoid wearing expensive jewelry.
  • Do not carry a purse or wallet, if possible. Consider bringing a security travel pouch instead.
  • Always carry your driver’s license or identification along with necessary cash, checks and/or a credit card you expect to use.
  • If you discover that a credit card is missing, notify the credit card company as soon as possible. Don’t assume that you misplaced it and will find it later.
  • Keep a record of all of your credit card numbers in a safe place at home.
  • Recognize when you are rushed, distracted and stressed out, and stay alert to what is going on around you.
  • Be extra careful if you do carry a wallet or purse. They are the prime targets of criminals in crowded shopping areas, terminals, bus stops, on buses and other rapid transit.
  • Avoid overloading yourself with packages. It is important to have clear visibility and freedom of motion if you are approached.
  • Beware of strangers approaching you for any reason. At this time of year, con artists may try various methods of distracting you, including working in teams, with the intention of taking your money or belongings.


How do attackers target online shoppers?

There are three common ways that attackers can take advantage of online shoppers:

  • Creating fraudulent sites and email messages – Unlike traditional shopping, where you know that a store is actually the store it claims to be, attackers can create malicious websites or email messages that appear to be legitimate. Attackers may also misrepresent themselves as charities, especially after natural disasters or during holiday seasons. Attackers create these malicious sites and email messages to try to convince you to supply personal and financial information.
  • Intercepting insecure transactions – If a vendor does not use encryption, an attacker may be able to intercept your information as it is transmitted.
  • Targeting vulnerable computers – If you do not take steps to protect your computer from viruses or other malicious code, an attacker may be able to gain access to your computer and all of the information on it. It also is important for vendors to protect their computers to prevent attackers from accessing customer databases.


How can you protect yourself?

  • Do business with reputable vendors – Before providing any personal or financial information, make sure you are interacting with a reputable, established vendor. Some attackers may try to trick you by creating malicious websites that appear to be legitimate, so you should verify the legitimacy before supplying any information. Attackers may obtain a site certificate for a malicious website to appear more authentic, so review the certificate information, particularly the “issued to” information. Locate and note phone numbers and physical addresses of vendors in case there is a problem with your transaction or your bill.
  • Make sure your information is being encrypted – Many sites use secure sockets layer (SSL) to encrypt information. Indications that your information will be encrypted include a URL that begins with “https:” instead of “http:” and a padlock icon. If the padlock is closed, the information is encrypted. The location of the icon varies by browser; for example, it may be to the right of the address bar or at the bottom of the window. Some attackers try to trick users by adding a fake padlock icon, so make sure that the icon is in the appropriate location for your browser.
  • Be wary of emails requesting information – Attackers may attempt to gather information by sending emails requesting that you confirm purchase or account information. Legitimate businesses will not solicit this type of information through email. Do not provide sensitive information through email. If you receive an unsolicited email from a business, instead of clicking on the provided link, directly log on to the authentic website by typing the address yourself.
  • Use a credit card – There are laws to limit your liability for fraudulent credit card charges, but you may not have the same level of protection for your debit cards. Additionally, because a debit card draws money directly from your bank account, unauthorized charges could leave you with insufficient funds to pay other bills. You can minimize potential damage by using a single, low-limit credit card to make all of your online purchases. Also use a credit card when using a payment gateway such as PayPal, Google Wallet, or Apple Pay.
  • Check your shopping app settings – Look for apps that tell you what they do with your data and how they keep it secure. Keep in mind that there is no legal limit on your liability with money stored in a shopping app (or on a gift card). Unless otherwise stated under the terms of service, you are responsible for all charges made through your shopping app.
  • Check your statements – Keep a record of your purchases and copies of confirmation pages, and compare them to your bank statements. If there is a discrepancy, report it immediately.
  • Check privacy policies – Before providing personal or financial information, check the website’s privacy policy. Make sure you understand how your information will be stored and used.

AEP Exposes Tricks Scammers Use to Steal Money From Customers

Protect yourself, your family and friends against scammers.

(Story by Carey Sullivan)

AEP and more than 80 other gas and electric utilities in the United States and Canada have joined forces to protect customers from long-running scams.

These utilities have designated November 16 as “Utilities United Against Scams Day.”

AEP and other utilities are exposing the tricks scammers use to steal money from customers.

“The scammers have targeted local businesses, senior citizens and customers whose native language is not English,” said Brett Mattison, Southwestern Electric Power Company’s (SWEPCO) director of customer services and marketing. “We’re sharing this information so customers can protect themselves from this fraudulent activity.”

The thieves are calling AEP customers and:

  • Threatening to shut off power in an hour unless an immediate payment is made;
  • Telling customers they need a new electric meter, but must make a payment before the new meter is installed;
  • Offering a discount on their bill if they sign up for auto-pay; and
  • Demanding a deposit be paid immediately.


“AEP employees will never demand immediate payment, insist a payment be made with a prepaid credit card or ask a customer to meet us in a parking lot to make a payment,” said Linda Cosby, customer operations manager based at the Shreveport Customer Solutions Center.

Additional red flags for scam activity

The thief instructs the customer to purchase a pre-paid debit or credit card — widely available at retail stores — then call him or her back to supposedly make a payment. The scammer asks the customer for the prepaid card’s receipt number and PIN number, which grants instant access to the card’s funds.

Some scammers also are displaying AEP’s name as the Caller ID. Others play a telephone recording that sounds like an AEP phone system message.

Protect family, friends

“Please take the time to warn your family and friends about these scams,” Mattison said. “It’s not just AEP seeing this. It’s utilities and customers across the country.”

If someone suspects they’re being scammed, they should hang up, call the local police and then contact their AEP operating company. Never dial the phone number the scammers provide. Customers can call AEP anytime to verify their account balance and the date their payment is due.

For customers who are facing disconnection, AEP will notify them by mail that their account is past due and their electric service will be disconnected. AEP will contact the customer multiple times before their service is cut off.

“In the initial stages of the scam activity, it is estimated that at least 50 percent of customers contacted were tricked.” said Carolyn Martin, who reviews scams reported to AEP, speaks with customers who have been victimized and compiles a monthly report. “On average, more than 90 percent of customers who receive a call and report it indicated they did not fall for the scam.”

AEP is working with local, state and federal law enforcement agencies to identify and prosecute scammers. For more information, go to SWEPCO’s webpage.

Former AEP SVP Gregory Vassell Passes Away

Gregory Vassell

Gregory Vassell

Gregory Vassell, 94, former AEP senior vice president of System Planning, died Nov. 3.

A native of Russia, Vassell joined the AEP System in 1951 as an assistant engineer. He was always interested in the theoretical side of power engineering and found a home in System Planning. He moved through the engineering ranks in the 1950s and 60s, and was elected assistant vice president in 1968, vice president-system planning in 1973, and senior vice president in 1976.

Vassell promoted development of AEP’s extra-high voltage transmission system, including the 765-kV network, now the nation’s largest. His analysis of the causes of the 1965 blackout led to his participation in the founding of the East Central Area Reliability Coordination Agreement.

The AEP executive was named a fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, a member of the CIGRE (International Council on Large Electric Systems) and an alternate representative on the U.S. national committee for the World Energy Conference. In 1980, he was elected a member of the prestigious National Academy of Engineering for his contributions in the field of electric energy. He retired from the company Dec. 31, 1987.

For his many contributions in transmission engineering, AEP named a 765/345/138-kilovolt (kV) “super” station in Sunbury, Ohio, after him.

A memorial service will be held for Vassell Nov. 20 in Dublin, Ohio. View the attachment for more information and directions.





SWEPCO MVERG honors a Marine Corps Vet

Justin Jackson at Turk rail unloading coal bunker.

(Story by Scott McCloud)

Justin Jackson, a coal handler at Southwestern Electric Power Company’s (SWEPCO) John W. Turk Jr. Power Plant at Fulton, Ark., joined the United States Marine Corps in 2004, serving one tour of duty in Iraq (Iraqi Freedom 2006) and two tours in Afghanistan through 2011 (Enduring Freedom.)

In action, Jackson was a driver and gunner on a MRAP (Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected to withstand improvised explosive devices) vehicle; served as a ranking general’s personal security attachment; and worked as a motor transport instructor. He is a Combat Action Veteran and back stateside, he was an instructor and gunnery range coach. He was discharged in 2012 from the service.

“After 9-11, I wanted to serve and protect the security of American citizens,” said Jackson. “My grandpa fought in two wars (World War II and Korea), and I felt as a man it was my duty to take care of our country. I’m very proud to be a Marine. The military helped me in all aspects of my life.”

SWEPCO’s Military Veterans Employee Resource Group (MVERG) salutes Justin Jackson and all SWEPCO veterans.

Charleston Line Mechanic Serves as Army Guardsman

John Miller (right) at a weapons qualification exercise with his team leader, Aaron Clark, at the White Sands Missile Range in El Paso, Texas.

(Story by Phil Moye)

CHARLESTON, W.Va. – During a nine-month stretch of his first two years as an Appalachian Power line mechanic, John Miller didn’t climb a pole, didn’t install an electric service or restore power after a storm. Instead he spent his time gathering intelligence and providing terror threat analyses — as a U.S. Army Sergeant on assignment in the Republic of Kosovo in southeast Europe.

When Miller came to Appalachian Power in October 2014, he had been part of the Army National Guard for about three years. But it wasn’t until June 2015, seven months after he began as a line mechanic-D in Charleston, W.Va., that he was called to overseas active duty.

Miller’s assignment included ensuring the safety of residents and NATO peacekeeping forces in Kosovo. He worked with people from multiple countries, including Austria, Turkey and Slovenia, to protect NATO forces from neighboring Serbs.

He and fellow soldiers relied on interpreters to converse with Kosovo residents about potential threats and infrastructure issues that needed addressed. In some cases, they were able to act on issues, such as getting a well started at a school that lacked water.

“It wasn’t a combat situation,” Miller said. “We were there to help and the people of Kosovo were glad we were there.”

This March, Miller returned to Charleston and picked up where he’d left his work as a line mechanic. “During the time away, it was great to know I had a good job waiting for me back home,” he said.

Miller said his supervisors and co-workers have been extremely supportive of his work with the Army Guard. “My supervisors work my schedule around those times I have to be away for training, and while I was overseas, people from all across the Charleston District would send care packages,” he said. “I am grateful to be part of the Appalachian Power family.”

Miller’s five-year commitment with the Army National Guard ends this December.

Akins Appears on ‘Mad Money’ with Jim Cramer

AEP CEO Nick Akins (left) discusses AEP’s growth strategy with Jim Cramer during a “Mad Money” segment Nov. 3.

Nick Akins, AEP chairman, president and chief executive officer, appeared on CNBC’s “Mad Money with Jim Cramer” program Nov. 3 and discussed third quarter earnings results and the company’s growth strategy for the future.

View the video.

Cramer noted that during AEP’s Nov. 1 meeting with analysts, the company reported that the “new” story of AEP — the premier regulated energy company — is around higher growth, higher dividends, more regulated and more certainty. He asked if all this was too good to be true.

“It’s not too good to be true,” Akins responded. “We’ve been in a several-year process of transforming this company to one that’s fully regulated so we can provide consistency, quality in earnings and, obviously, dividends, as well, to our shareholders. Reforming the business has really worked out for us and now we’re fully regulated and we’ve raised the growth profile going forward.

“We’re about long-term consistency for our shareholders, and that’s what they expect,” Akins continued. “We want to make sure the business focuses on that, and we have the added benefit of a huge transmission and infrastructure play that makes a lot of sense.”

“How can you assure growth at a time that is so uncertain in this country?” Cramer asked.

“Because we invest our capital — we have $17.3 billion in capital that we are going to be investing over the next three years in infrastructure — and we recover through the regulated framework, with a ROE (return on equity) associated with that, so we produce earnings from that perspective,” Akins answered.

Turning to renewables — specifically solar — Cramer wondered if the energy grid would collapse if rooftop solar became so affordable that everyone put solar panels — like shingles — on their houses.

“There’s a huge challenge associated with that because the more distributed generation you have, the more we need to be able to control it and manage the grid itself,” Akins said. “A part of the growth strategy at AEP is around infrastructure to support all of these renewable resources being added, so it’s not only the infrastructure of transmission and block-and-tackle-type investments, it’s also investment in terms of information flow, new systems and new technologies so these systems can be managed.”

Commenting on the upcoming presidential election, which features one candidate who is pro-coal and one who is essentially anti-coal, Akins said, “I think we are doing exactly what our customers expect us to do — moving toward a cleaner energy environment. No matter who’s elected, we’re a long-term business and we plan to be around for a long time. We manage between both parties all the time. As long as we’re staying focused on the customer and the expectations there, then we’ll be fine. We have a huge transition going on, and we’ll continue that transition toward cleaner energy.”