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AEP Ohio’s Williams Wins 2018 Chairman’s Award for ‘Inspiring Efficiency’

Jon Williams (left) receives his Inspiring Efficiency Award from MEEA Board Chairman Jim Jerozal.

(Story by Scott Fuller)

The Midwest Energy Efficiency Alliance (MEEA) recently announced winners of its 14th annual Inspiring Efficiency Awards, which honor leaders who have delivered groundbreaking advancements in energy efficiency. Jon Williams, AEP Ohio’s director of Distribution Technology & Innovation, was given the 2018 Chairman’s Award for his exemplary industry leadership and support of MEEA throughout the organization’s history.

Williams oversees energy efficiency and demand-response projects for AEP Ohio, including the design, development and implementation of the company’s energy efficiency and peak demand-reduction programs. He also is responsible for developing new “smart” distribution-related technologies, projects and opportunities such as renewables, electric vehicles/charging, batteries and smart lighting.

“AEP Ohio and our customers have benefitted for many years from Jon’s drive and leadership to grow energy efficiency programs in Ohio,” said Marc Reitter, AEP Ohio vice president of Regulatory & Finance. “Under his direction, our programs have grown exponentially and our customers have saved millions of dollars from reduced energy usage. We are thrilled that he’s being honored with this year’s MEEA Chairman’s Award.”

Williams has more than 36 years of experience working with all classes of customers on energy-related issues, including energy efficiency, demand response, power quality, construction, rates and contracts. He served on MEEA’s board of directors for six years and supported the organization as a board officer for five years.

MEEA is a collaborative network advancing energy efficiency for sustainable economic development and environmental stewardship across its 13 Midwestern states. The organization recognized winners on February 8 during an awards ceremony as part of the Midwest Energy Solutions Conference in Chicago.

Obituaries

AEP River Transportation Division

Oden Austin, 91, retired, River Transportation Division, died January 31.

Freda Buchanan, 82, retired, River Transportation Division, died January 2.

Robert Posey, 64, AEP River Operations-Paducah, died December 25.

Earl Turner, 85, retired, River Transportation Division, died January 20.

Paul Werner, 72, AEP River Operations, died January 20.

AEP Service Corporation

O.W. Brockway, 86, retired, AEP Headquarters, died December 31.

John “Jack” Dunn, 88, retired, AEP Headquarters, died December 27.

David England Jr., 70, Renaissance Tower,  died January 2.

Charles Loring, 78, retired, Central Operations Center, died January 7.

George Pringle Jr., 91, retired, AEP Headquarters, died January 2.

Ronnie Tabler, 70, Home Worksite-Ohio, died January 13.

Richard Tarantelli, 86, retired, AEP Headquarters, died January 20.

Louisa Zollo, 84, retired, AEP Headquarters, died December 12.

Appalachian Power Company

Gene Canfield, 91, retired, Central Machine Shop, died January 17.

Michael Connor, 69, John W. Vaughan Center, died January 19.

James Davenport, 88, retired, Lynchburg Office, died January 19.

Marvin Dillard, 71, retired, Lynchburg Service Center, died January 7.

Leslie Erwin, 90, retired, Huntington Office, died December 28.

Ronnie Hale, 72, Kingsport Service Center, died January 10.

Larry Johnson, 76, retired, Sporn Plant, died January 27.

Gary Morris, 70, retired, Kanawha River Plant, died January 1.

Keith Pearson, 62, Sporn Plant, died January 12.

Harry Pickens, 90, retired, Sporn Plant, died December 17.

William Pritsch, 71, retired, Moundsville Service Center, died December 31.

Claude Young, 85, retired, North Charleston Service Center, died December 19.

Columbus Southern Power Company

Timothy Beard, 69, Mound Street Service Center, died November 15.

Gale Myers, 85, retired, Conesville Plant, died January 22.

Mildred Patterson, 77, retired, 850 Tech Center, died December 31.

Glenna Plymale, 80, retired, 850 Tech Center, died January 16.

Charles Schulz Jr., 83, retired, Columbus Southwest Service Center, died December 20.

Indiana Michigan Power Company

Agnes Beckmann, 95, retired, Cook Nuclear Plant, died January 2.

Oscar Gallay, 87, retired Elkhart Service Center, died December 30.

Lucille Harrell, 93, retired, Marion Office, died January 28.

Thomas Larson, 92, retired, South Bend Service Center, died January 20.

Elton Powell, 92, retired, Three Rivers Service Center, died January 7.

Frank Smole, 69, Elkhart Service Center, died January 25.

Diana Sweat, 69, Rockport Plant, died January 3.

Joan Veitch, 92, retired, One Summit Square, died December 31.

Kentucky Power Company

Jack Pauley, 84, retired, Robert E. Matthews Service Center, died January 23.

Samuel Wilson, 73, retired, Robert E. Matthews Service Center, died January 25.

Ohio Power Company

Richard Alley, 74, retired, Newark Service Building, died January 6.

James Bumpus, 78, retired, Central Ohio Coal Company, died January 3.

Louis Campbell, 87, retired, Kammer Plant, died November 24.

Robert Davis, 80, retired, Central Ohio Coal Company, died January 8.

Richard Edwards, 89, retired, Van Wert Service Center, died January 27.

James Foley, 80, retired, Canton Eastern Regional Office, died January 18.

Raymond Haga, 75, retired, Gavin Plant, died December 22.

Teddy Hayes, 91, retired, Muskingum River Plant, died December 19.

Daniel Holmes, 66, Kammer Plant, died January 28.

Norma Klein, 97, retired, Canton Eastern Regional Office, died January 9.

William Lyon, 92, retired, Conesville Prep Plant, died January 21.

Richard Martin, 86, retired, East Liverpool Office Building, died December 30.

William Nudo, 88, retired, Canton Eastern Regional Office, died January 15.

James Rine, 75, retired, Mt. Vernon Service Building, died January 30.

Leon Sevigny, 87, retired, Lancaster Office Building, died January 29.

Melvin Swisher, 71, Gavin Plant, died January 16.

Doris Twyman, 86, retired, Mitchell Plant, died January 9.

William Weith Jr., 88, retired, Cardinal Plant, died December 30.

Public Service Company of Oklahoma

Charles Boston, 90, retired, Tulsa General Office, died December 28.

Elmuth Bruce Jr., 77, retired, Tulsa General Office, died December 22.

Jeanne Eubank, 90, retired, Tulsa General Office, died December 29.

Billy Martin, 69, Tulsa General Office, died January 2.

Mickey Scroggins, 76, Clinton Operations, died January 10.

Southwestern Electric Power Company

Floyd Burns, 88, retired, Shreveport General Office, died January 6.

Richard Porter Jr., 86, retired, Shreveport General Office, died November 20.

Howard Selph, 90 retired, Shreveport General Office, died January 24.

Texas Central

Willie Carter, 94, retired, Corpus Christi Office, died January 5.

M.G. Claflin, 80, retired, Corpus Christi Office, died December 29.

Kenneth Knox, 75, retired, Corpus Christi Office, died January 23.

Bruce Miller, 85, retired, Corpus Christi Office, died January 21.

Raquel Soto, 61, Corpus Christi Office, died December 29.

William Sparks, 80, retired, Corpus Christi Office, died November 19.

Milton Torno, 91, retired, Corpus Christi Office, died January 10.

Dennis Wallace Jr., 83, retired, Corpus Christi Office, died January 13.

Texas North

C.R. Davis, 89, retired, Abilene General Office, died October 8.

Teddy Hamilton, 77, retired, Oklaunion Power Plant, died November 15.

Bobby Heji, 72, Oak Creek Power Plant, died January 3.

January Retirements

AEP Ohio

Brad Hunt, Central Operations Center, retired January 16 after 11 years of service.

Scott Melroy, Fostoria Service Center, retired January 19 after 38 years of service.

Michael Stoll, Canton South Service Center, retired January 6 after 44 years of service.

Kenneth Tomblin Jr., Mound Street Service Center, retired January 1 after 29 years of service.

AEP River Transportation Division

David Wilcoxen, River Transportation Division, retired January 10 after 40 years of service.

AEP Service Corporation

Robert Bible, AEP Headquarters, retired January 27 after 12 years of service.

Mark Pyle, AEP Headquarters, retired January 27 after30 years of service.

Barbara Radous, AEP Headquarters, retired January 3 after 16 years of service.

Katherine Walker, AEP Headquarters, retired January 3 after 32 years of service.

AEP Texas

Clyde Linahan, Abilene Distribution, retired January 6 after 44 years of service.

Kathy Sayles, Abilene Distribution, retired January 13 after 37 years of service.

Appalachian Power Company

Gregory Holland, Roanoke Main Office, retired January 17 after 35 years of service.

Eddie Spence, Bluefield (W.Va.) Service Center, retired January 1 after 34 years of service.

Generation

Norma Bechtol, Conesville Plant, retired January 6 after 12 years of service.

Ricky Chafin, Clinch River Plant, retired January 27 after 35 years of service.

John Farley, Riverside Station, retired January 4 after 37 years of service.

William Hannah, Cook Nuclear Plant, retired January 5 after 31 years of service.

George Jessee, Clinch River Plant, retired January 13 after 34 years of service.

Dale Koern, Cook Nuclear Plant, retired January 6 after 26 years of service.

Norma McDannell, Cook Nuclear Plant, retired January 10 after 19 years of service.

Richard Skeen, Mountaineer Plant, retired January 5 after 34 years of service.

Thomas Valerio, Cardinal Plant, retired January 1 after 41 years of service.

Sharon West, Rockport Plant, retired January 6 after 28 years of service.

Donald Wilson, Big Sandy Plant, retired January 12 after 36 years of service.

Indiana Michigan Power Company

Irving Thomas, Northeast Service Center, retired January 3 after 27 years of service.

Public Service Company of Oklahoma

Robert Clark, Tulsa General Office, retired January 27 after 37 years of service.

Thomas Hankins, Tulsa General Office, retired January 6 after 43 years of service.

Barbara Kennedy, Vinita Service Center, retired January 13 after 10 years of service.

Thomas Paulk, Chickasha Service Center, retired January 20 after 40 years of service.

Mikel Revels, Energy Control Center, retired January 1 after 34 years of service.

David Walker, Mid Metro Office, retired January 6 after 39 years of service.

Oliver Watts, Tulsa General Office, retired January 8 after 32 years of service.

Southwestern Electric Power Company

Bryan Matthews, Longview Operations, retired January 13 after 34 years of service.

Ozell Terrell Jr., Dolet Hills Lignite Mine, retired January 5 after 24 years of service.

Robbie Wyatt, Shreveport General Office, retired January 5 after 42 years of service.

Powering Up Puerto Rico

Members of the AEP Texas crew at the staging area in Caguas, Puerto Rico.

(Story by Bailey Cultice)

CAGUAS, Puerto Rico — AEP crews are receiving warm welcomes from the people of Puerto Rico. More than 60 employees arrived on the island January 27 and have been working to restore power in the Caguas region, about 20 miles south of San Juan.

“Morale is high among our team and they’re doing good work,” said Phil Lewis, emergency restoration planning manager, who has been working on the team to coordinate AEP’s response to get personnel, equipment and supplies to Puerto Rico. “The progress we’re making is much appreciated. People are celebrating and cheering when our crews turn back on the power.”

It’s easy to see the joy Puerto Ricans are feeling in a video from Bryan Mason, safety and health consultant for AEP Ohio. Locals gathered around AEP Ohio line mechanics and cheered when they snapped fuses back into place. Crews say the residents are gracious and helpful, even bringing lunch to different sites.

“The people of Puerto Rico are so grateful and appreciative of the work that we are doing.  It’s truly amazing and very rewarding,” said Chris Baucom, safety and health manager, Public Service Company of Oklahoma. “This has been an experience of a lifetime and I’m so thankful that we are down here not only helping to restore power, but also to help restore normalcy to the lives of the great people here in Puerto Rico.”

Baucom is a member of AEP’s Incident Management Team (IMT) and has been on the island since January 6, working as the site safety representative. He said crews are doing well handling the conditions on the island. They realize the unique hazards they’re facing and are doing a great job to prepare for them during pre-job briefs.

According to the Edison Electric Institute (EEI), service has been restored to more than 70 percent of the customers in Puerto Rico. That’s more than one million customers. Some people have been without power since September when Hurricane Maria devastated the island.

Attention: Tax forms are in the mail

AEP tax forms are in the mail. Please use the table below to refer to forms you need.

Tax Form Issuer Mail Date Contact Information
W-2 (including imputed income for retiree life insurance) AEP 1/26/2018 888-237-2363, option 5
1099-MISC AEP Accounts Payable 1/5/2018 330-438-7799
1099-R (pension participants) Bank of New York 1/31/2018

(please allow until February 14 before requesting a reprint/re-mail)

888-237-2363, option 1, then option 2 then option 1 for English and then option 4 for pension
Form 1095 UnifyHR To be determined (deadline is 3/2/18)

Reminder: this form is not needed to file a tax return

888-237-2363, option 5
1099-SA (for participants with H.S.A distributions) HealthEquity By 1/31/2018 (available online) 877-713-7712
Form 5498 (for participants who made H.S.A contributions, including via payroll deduction) HealthEquity By 1/31/2018 (available online) 877-713-7712

 

 

AEP employees at work in Puerto Rico

More than 70 AEP employees arrived Jan. 27 to begin work restoring power in Puerto Rico.

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — More than 70 employees from across AEP are starting work to help return power to Puerto Rico. The team arrived in San Juan on Saturday, January 27, and traveled to the city of Caguas, a municipality about 20 miles south of San Juan, where they will stay and work for at least 30 days.

Teams from AEP Texas, AEP Ohio, Appalachian Power, Indiana Michigan Power, Kentucky Power, Public Service Company of Oklahoma and Southwestern Electric Power Company are working in Caguas. Workers from a number of U.S.-based utilities and electrical contractors are assigned work across Puerto Rico.

The AEP team includes employees from distribution line, fleet, safety and health, engineering and dispatching sections.

After arriving in Caguas, employees transferred equipment to staging areas and went through safety briefings.

Employees know they’re going to face challenges on the island, including access to materials and safety concerns. AEP’s Incident Management Team (IMT) has been laying the groundwork for the team’s arrival since December to help alleviate some of those concerns.

Members of the IMT have been building relationships with the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA), the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and other utilities working in the Caguas region. They’ve also been studying the safety issues on the island.

A highly detailed package of materials is available for the crews as part of their safety onboarding. Several hours are spent covering the information before they start working. Driving is the biggest safety issue on the island. Many of the street lights are still out and the roads are narrow, especially in the rural areas.

About 450,000 of 1.5 million electricity customers in Puerto Rico still have no service and blackouts are still a regular occurrence. Hurricane Maria knocked out power to the island about four months ago.

Retiree benefits billing issue noted and is being corrected

  • Some billing accounts charged twice, resulting in past due notices

  • Coverage unaffected as long as January payment was made

 

A number of AEP retirees recently received past due notices regarding their January premium amounts.

The company that AEP uses for retiree benefits billing experienced an issue that resulted in sending the past due notices.

In some accounts, the amounts due for January were processed twice. Those accounts appeared to have a remaining balance due, even though the correct January amount was paid in a timely manner.

At this time AEP is not aware of the exact number of people impacted.

This issue is being reviewed and corrected. Your coverage is NOT in any danger of being terminated or impacted in any way, as long as you have made the appropriate January premium payment.

If you are not sure whether you have made the appropriate payment, please contact the AEP Benefits Center (888-237-2363, option 1 and then option 2) to confirm your correct monthly amount and whether you have any amounts that are actually past due.

PSO Presented National Award For Employee STEM Volunteers

AEP Transmission employees and STEM mentor volunteer coordinators — Aiden Hadley (white shirt), John Carmichael (black polo shirt), and Josh Crouch (far right, glasses) — play Multiplication Bingo with math students they are mentoring at Chouteau Elementary School.

(Story by Ed Bettinger)

Public Service Company of Oklahoma’s efforts to encourage teaching STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) in the classroom and the volunteer mentorship efforts of employees in support of STEM teaching have received national recognition.

In early December, PSO was presented the Excellence in Volunteer Mobilization STEM Mentoring Award for 2017 by US2020. US2020 is a White House-affiliated organization created several years ago to promote STEM mentorship. Fifty-two cities across the country participate in US2020.

Commenting on the award, Stuart Solomon, PSO president and chief operating officer, said, “This is a wonderful recognition of our company and our terrific employee volunteers who are doing such fantastic work in STEM mentoring.”

For several years now, employees volunteering to serve as STEM mentors have worked hand-in-hand with PSO’s company efforts (with AEP Foundation support) to make STEM teaching an ongoing part of school curricula.

One of those ongoing efforts is Me & My Math Mentor (M4), a now two-year-old math mentoring program at Tulsa Public Schools’ Chouteau Elementary School.  Chouteau is one of PSO’s Partners in Education schools, and is a feeder school to Central Jr-Sr. High School, which has been a PSO Partner in Education school for over 30 years.

M4, which is a program of the Tulsa Regional STEM Alliance, has attracted a number of PSO and AEP employees as mentor volunteers since its introduction at Chouteau in 2016. The number of employee volunteer math mentors varies from semester to semester. At present, there are six AEP Transmission employees who are engaged in the program.

Three of those currently coordinate the mentor effort while also serving as math mentors themselves. Those three are: Aiden Hadley, Engineer-Transmission Station Engineering ERCOT; John Carmichael, Engineer-Transmission Station Protection Engineering SPP; and Josh Crouch, Engineer-Transmission Station Engineering SPP. They also coordinate the math mentors from other Tulsa-area companies participating in M4 at Chouteau.

Rounding out the current AEP mentor cadre are Kristine Saavedra, Engineer-Transmission Station Engineering ERCOT; Brandon Cogan, Supervisor-Planning & Engineering, Transmission Asset Performance; and Alex Johnson, Engineer-Transmission Station Engineering ERCOT. Jevonta Moore, Engineering Associate-Transmission Line Engineering SPP, played a key role in the program last fall, but is not participating as a mentor this semester.

“Each of us was looking for an opportunity to give back to the community around us,” said Hadley. “Since we are engineers, mentoring students in math seemed a natural fit.”

The employees arrive at the school before 7:15 a.m. three mornings a week. The mentors work with each student once a week and each mentoring session is 30 minutes. Tuesday is for 4th grade, Wednesday is 5th grade, and Thursday is 6th.

The M4 program gives volunteers a chance to help students with their foundational basic math skills and sets the stage for future STEM careers. Through playing math games that focus on math facts (addition, subtraction, division and multiplication), students work with their mentor on their confidence and skills all with an emphasis on making math fun.

Of employees’ involvement in the math mentoring program, Rachel Trampler, Social Service Specialist for Tulsa Public Schools, wrote to PSO recently to express their gratitude, saying, “Our partnership with PSO has greatly benefited Chouteau the past two years. The math mentors from PSO and AEP have created meaningful relationships with the students they mentor. The students show increased math confidence and look forward to their tutoring time each week. This partnership is important for many reasons. First, math mentoring increases math competencies and strengthens the learning that occurs in the classroom. Second, our students are exposed to professionals in the Tulsa community, allowing them to see career opportunities. Chouteau is very grateful for the partnership with PSO!”

John Gilkey (right), senior engineer, Distribution Engineering – Tulsa, talks about the different types of jobs performed by PSO employees in the field as students Christopher Manore (standing, center) and Ja’ Jahnie Casey find out how difficult it can be to do even a simple task – like picking up a quarter – while wearing protective gloves our line workers wear.

Excellence in Volunteer Mobilization STEM Mentoring Award for 2017

PSO was nominated for this award by the Tulsa Regional STEM Alliance. The nomination cited numerous examples of PSO’s leadership in STEM mentoring, including:

  • PSO’s cadre of employees who volunteer to serve as mentors at Chouteau Elementary School through the Me and My Math Mentor program. (If you’re interested in becoming a math mentor, please check out the Tulsa Regional STEM Alliance’s website — http://tulsastem.org/math-mentors/)
  • The AEP Foundation Credits Count program, which serves Tulsa Public Schools via a grant to the Tulsa Community College Foundation to advance STEM experiential learning for middle-school students, and dual STEM curricula enrollment for high school students.
  • Development of PSO’s new EmPOWERED Mentors program, which matches PSO Distribution engineers with high school students at public schools in PSO’s service area to learn about engineering careers. Ryan Godwin, Manager-Customer Design, coordinates this program, which kicked off November 17 with 15 employee volunteers.
  • Recognition of PSO’s history of providing Robotics Grants via AEP to robotics teams in our service area.  In 2016, PSO provided nearly $28,000 in grants from the AEP Foundation to 27 high school and middle school robotics programs across our Oklahoma service areas.
  • The AEP Bright Start Right Start Science Workshop for Preschool Teachers held each year in Tulsa, to teach how to incorporate science concepts into everyday learning for young children. Thirty-six teachers participate in the workshop each year.
  • A recent $500,000 grant from the AEP Foundation for the capital campaign of the Tulsa Children’s Museum to build a new facility located within the new Gathering Place park in Tulsa. The new museum building will also serve as the STEM Center for the Tulsa Public Schools district, which is the second largest district in the state, with approximately 42,000 students.

 

EmPOWERED Engineering Mentoring Program

Another volunteer mentor opportunity for employees is PSO’s new EmPOWERED Engineering Mentoring program, which matches PSO Distribution engineers with high school students at public schools in PSO’s service area to learn about engineering careers.  The program kicked off November 17 with 15 employee volunteers. Ryan Godwin, Manager-Customer Design, is the coordinator.

AEP Earns EEI Emergency Response Awards

AEP CEO Nick Akins (left) accepts the EEI Emergency Response Award on behalf of AEP Texas from EEI President Tom Kuhn.

(Story by Shanelle Hinkle-Moore)

The Edison Electric Institute (EEI) recently recognized AEP in an Emergency Response Awards ceremony. The EEI gives the awards to member companies who show outstanding efforts to restore service after severe weather or natural disaster. This distinction acknowledges AEP’s 2017 aims to help customers impacted by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma.

“AEP and its operating companies receiving the EEI Response and Recovery Awards acknowledges our dedication to our customers and utility partners. AEP is recognized nationally for being willing to provide significant personnel and resources in a time of need. The electric utility industry can respond quickly to restore vital services across the country through its mutual assistance agreements and partnerships. Our combined hurricane restoration efforts are a perfect example of how we work together to serve our customers,” said Phil Lewis, emergency restoration planning manager for AEP.

AEP received awards in two categories:

  • Emergency Recovery Award — AEP Texas received the Emergency Recovery Award. The award is for member companies directly impacted by a severe event. After the Category 4 Hurricane Harvey, crews worked tirelessly to repair the severely damaged transmission and distribution systems throughout the Coastal Bend service territory. Their efforts helped restore service to nearly 370,000 customers without power.
  • Emergency Assistance Award — AEP operating companies received the Emergency Assistance Award for providing outstanding support to other energy companies during Hurricane Irma. The number of employees who assisted is as follows:
    • AEP Ohio sent 106 line workers to help Florida Power and Light (FPL), 118 line workers to Tampa Electric Company (TECO), and 26 management team members to FPL.
    • APCO sent 93 line workers to support Georgia Power and FPL and 23 to TECO.
    • I&M sent 25 line workers to assist TECO and 10 management team members to FPL.
    • Kentucky Power sent 25 line workers to TECO and FPL.
    • PSO sent 94 line workers to TECO.
    • SWEPCO sent 95 line workers to Duke Energy.

 

“When disaster impacts a region, electric companies from across the nation are called on to assist impacted companies in need – mutual assistance is a hallmark of our industry,” said EEI President Tom Kuhn. “When Hurricanes Harvey and Irma struck, AEP answered both calls to help. AEP’s assistance to restore service to impacted customers is a terrific example of mutual assistance in action.”

EEI presented the awards during a winter board and CEO meeting in Scottsdale, Arizona, in mid-January. A judging panel chose the winners after an international nomination process.

‘Shovel-Ready’ Sites Boost Business Growth in Northwest Ohio

AEP’s Tim Wells, second from left, presents the first Food & Beverage Certified Site designation to the Lima economic development group.

(Story by Scott Fuller)

Food processing companies have invested $578 million dollars in Northwest Ohio during the past three years, bringing more than 1,600 new jobs to the area. Smucker’s, Heinz and ConAgra are some of the big-name brands that continue to grow there.

Behind the scenes, AEP Ohio has helped play a pivotal role in making it happen.

For example, AEP Ohio is working in conjunction with Austin Consulting and the Regional Growth Partnership to identify and develop “shovel-ready” industrial sites. Their “Food & Beverage Certified Site” designation assures prospective companies that the location has passed a comprehensive review that includes infrastructure, transportation, environmental factors and community assets. The goal is to complete much of the due diligence on qualified sites, which reduces risk for prospective companies and allows them to get facilities up and operational more quickly.

“Available infrastructure is important to all manufacturers. Our certification program places additional emphasis on water and sewer availability to these sites, which is a key factor for food processors,” said Tim Wells, manager of economic and business development for AEP. “We want to show prospective customers that they are getting a development-ready site with no surprises.  Northwest Ohio’s thriving agribusiness ecosystem, existing supply chain and qualified workforce make these sites even more marketable to companies in this business sector.”

The strategy worked with Campbell’s: the famous soup maker is now building a $44 million, 750,000-sqaure-foot distribution center in Findlay, Ohio, that will be completed in the spring and employ 220 workers.

Findlay is only one of five sites that AEP Ohio is offering to food and beverage companies. Others in Van Wert, Lima, Bucyrus and Tiffin are all being promoted as ideal locations for investment. Northwest Ohio is desirable for many reasons: transportation and logistics advantages; a supply chain that includes nearly 250 food companies in the region; an abundance of natural resources; research and innovation centers close by; and a lower state tax burden that makes the cost of doing business more affordable.

But the food processing industry is not the only one AEP is targeting. In all, the AEP Economic and Business Development team is promoting 45 certified sites across the company’s 11-state territory. Nine of the 45 sites are in AEP Ohio’s service territory, including the Campbell’s site in Findlay.

“Our efforts are continuing to bring successes for AEP, AEP Ohio and the communities we serve. And we’re expecting more wins in 2018,” Wells said. “The programs are great for the company and they’re great for the areas where our customers live and work. But they are succeeding only because of our most important asset: the outstanding economic development team we have assembled from across the company. It’s a true team effort.”