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AEP Increases Number, Amount of Educational Awards

AEP cares about the safety, health and well-being of its employees and their families. The trustees of the American Electric Power System Educational Trust Fund have extended that caring further by increasing both the number and amount of the AEP Educational Awards for 2016-2017 (payable in 2017).

The number of recipients will increase from 42 to 44, and each winning scholar will receive $8,000 spread over a three-year period: $3,000 for the freshman year in college, $2,500 for the sophomore year and $2,500 for the junior year. For the past 10 years, winning scholars have each received $7,000 spread over three years.

Program materials are currently being updated and the 2016-2017 program will launch in September. Since its formation by AEP in 1955, the Trust has funded 1,909 educational awards totaling nearly $8.5 million. Winners of the 2016-2017 awards will be selected by two independent scholastic judges based on each student’s class rank, grade point average, test scores, recommendations, autobiographical presentation, special qualities or talents, leadership abilities, extracurricular activities and citizenship. If a student receives a full scholarship to the institution of choice, he or she will give up the AEP award and an alternate will be selected.

The awards are designed to identify and honor talented high school students, as well as to help offset the cost of higher education. The program is open to children of AEP employees who are seniors in high school and plan to pursue a four-year degree at an accredited college or university.

Plain Dealing Author Builds Second Career as Romance Writer

Winnie Griggs of Plain Dealing started writing her first romance novel during her college years, “one of those just-for-me exercises, something that I never intended anyone else to ever see.” It wasn’t until the late 80s, when she got her first home computer, that she tried her hand at writing “something that was actually publishable.” “Texas Cinderella,” which releases next week, is her 22nd published novel, most with Harlequin’s Love Inspired historical line. A soft-spoken wife and mother with a wry sense of humor, she built her fiction career while working full time at AEP SWEPCO for 35 years. She has, in other words, done what many would-be writers say can’t be done. Now retired from SWEPCO, she’s a hero to me and other area novelists. Continue reading…

I&M’s Twin Branch Solar Power Plant Begins Generating Electricity

2016-07-07_Site_Aerial
The Twin Branch Solar Power Plant in an aerial view.

(Story by Erica Putt)

MISHAWAKA, Ind. — Indiana Michigan Power is now generating energy at its first Michiana-area solar power plant, doubling the company’s solar capacity. The Twin Branch Solar Power Plant went online Aug. 19 following a thorough testing and commissioning process. The facility is generating up to 2.6 megawatts of electricity, and its generation is expected to power the equivalent of about 365 homes annually.

“I&M is very proud to enhance the South Bend area with yet another form of carbon-emission free energy,” said Paul Chodak III, president and chief operating officer of I&M. “Adding energy from the Twin Branch Solar plant to our area distribution system is another step toward boosting I&M’s use of renewables.”

The Twin Branch plant is located just east of Mishawaka, in an industrial area north of the AM General factory.

Twin Branch is the second of four I&M solar power plants plant to generate energy. The 2.5-megawatt Deer Creek plant just outside Marion, Ind., went online late in 2015. Construction is ongoing at two additional Michiana solar plants – near New Carlisle, Ind., and Watervliet, Mich., which will begin generating solar energy later in 2016. Combined, the four solar plants will have a capacity of nearly 15 megawatts and produce enough energy to power 2,000 homes annually.

The four plants are part of I&M’s Clean Energy Solar Pilot Project. “We know our customers want more renewable energy, and this pilot project will be a strong foundation as we plan more large-scale solar power plants,” Chodak said.

In addition to solar, I&M’s generation portfolio also includes nuclear, hydro, coal and, through power purchase agreements, wind. About 60 percent of the energy generated by I&M in 2015 came from non-carbon-emitting sources.

Appalachian Power Agrees to Sell Historic Reusens Hydroelectric Plant

The history of the Reusens Power Plant goes back to the mid-1800s and the operation of the early canal and lock system on the James River used primarily for commercial and agriculture shipments. It includes five generating units which have a total rated capacity of 12.5 megawatts.

(Story by John Shepelwich)

LYNCHBURG, Va. – Appalachian Power has agreed to the sale of its Reusens hydroelectric facility on the James River near Lynchburg. The plant will be sold to a growing New Jersey-based firm that specializes in renewable energy, particularly the operations of hydroelectric facilities.

Appalachian and Eagle Creek Renewable Energy of Morristown, N.J., will make required filings with state and federal regulatory agencies that must provide approval before a sale and transfer can be completed. The closing is expected to occur by early 2017.

As part of its continuing evaluation of generation assets, Appalachian Power considered the possibility of the sale of this power project for several years. The company recently reached an agreement with Eagle Creek, which owns and operates 49 hydroelectric facilities in the U.S.

The history of the Reusens Power Plant goes back to the mid-1800s and the operation of the early canal and lock system on the James River used primarily for commercial and agriculture shipments. The Reusens dam has been generating electricity since 1903.

American Gas & Electric Co. — predecessor to American Electric Power — rebuilt the plant in the late 1920s. It includes five generating units which have a total rated capacity of 12.5 megawatts (MW).

Over the last few years, generating units at the hydro facility were taken out of service due to a variety of equipment failures. Because less costly options for providing replacement energy to its customers were available, Appalachian elected not to refurbish or replace those units. Eagle Creek intends to refurbish or replace the five units and return Reusens to full operation once it becomes the owner.

Appalachian Power has introduced representatives of Eagle Creek to Lynchburg area officials, has stressed that the sale will have no negative effect on its ability to serve its customers in Virginia, and that no jobs will be lost as a result. The buyer, in fact, indicates that some new jobs will probably be created as the facility is updated and put back into operation.

The sale will not affect any of the company’s other hydroelectric plants in operation in Virginia and does not indicate a change in the growth of new renewable energy resources as part of its generation portfolio. Appalachian’s 2016 Integrated Resource Plan calls for the addition of more than 2,000 MW of wind and solar resources by 2030.

Eagle Creek Renewable Energy, LLC is an owner, operator and developer of hydroelectric generation facilities and provides safe, clean, economic renewable energy to electricity consumers in the U.S.  Eagle Creek currently owns and operates in excess of 130 MW from 49 facilities.  It was founded in 2010 and is privately owned. For additional information, visit www.eaglecreekre.com.

Appalachian Power Hosts W.Va Teachers for STEMersion Experience

A group of teachers from West Virginia pose at the John E. Amos Power Plant visitor center, prior to a tour of the plant. The teachers were part of STEMersion, a one-week professional development experience.

(Story by Matthew Thompson)

WINFIELD, W.Va — Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) are key skills needed in today’s workplace.

That message was the motivation for 25 middle and high school science, technology and math teachers who received a professional development experience called STEMersion.

An initiative of BridgeValley Community & Technical College (BVCTC), The Education Alliance and the West Virginia Manufacturing Association, the one-week professional development experience for teachers includes immersion at top STEM businesses in the Kanawha Valley.

Appalachian Power participated in the event as teachers visited the John E. Amos Power Plant in Winfield. During the site visit, participants experienced firsthand the types of knowledge and skills required for the ever-increasing STEM-related careers in the state. The tour included visits to the plant floor and talks with company leaders in generation, transmission and distribution.

Teachers that took part in the activities said they found the day very insightful.

“It made me understand what they have to go through to get our power to our homes,” said Teresa Swanson, a teacher at Elkview Middle School. “It also made me realize what they have to do to get back on when it goes out.”

Swanson said many students may not be college bound. But she said the STEMersion experience gives her tools to help certain students to ensure they get proper job training.

“They may not want to go to college, but they are good with their hands,” Swanson said. “I can now go back to them and say it’s OK to not go to college, but you still need training get in a job with advancement and have a long career.”

Michelle Smith, a counselor at Dunbar Middle School, said she was fascinated by how Appalachian Power has advanced over the years – particularly with electric meters.

“They were showing us different meters and how they have progressed from these big bulky things to smaller ones that are so cool,” Smith said.

Smith said the day also gave her a newfound gratitude of line workers.

“Putting on all that equipment, I mean, that stuff is heavy,” Smith said. “I have much appreciation for all the things they have to go through.”

Dr. Amelia Courts, president and chief executive officer of The Education Alliance, said the STEMersion program is paramount for area teachers.

“The Education Alliance was pleased to offer the STEMersion teacher professional development opportunity in collaboration with our partners,” Courts said.

“Research shows the more hands-on the opportunities are, the more teachers learn. The STEMersion project did just that by connecting STEM-centered businesses with educators who are eager to make real-word applications. Ninety-eight percent of participating teachers rated the training as ‘very good or excellent’ and we look forward to seeing the innovative ways teachers implement STEMersion in their classrooms with students.”

AEP Benefits Summary Plan Descriptions On The Way

The printing of the updated AEP Benefits Summary Plan Descriptions (SPDs) is complete and shipping is scheduled to begin on August 11 and 12. The updated documents are being mailed to the home addresses of retired employees. Should you have any questions, please contact the AEP Benefits Center at 1-888-237-2363.

 

 

Djabatey Delivers Inspirational Speech at Columbus Ohio AABE Scholarship Reception

(Story by Fay White)

Eight recent high school graduates listened intently as Jesse Djabatey delivered his speech at the 2016 Columbus Ohio Chapter of the American Association of Blacks In Energy (AABE) scholarship reception.

The graduates were being honored as scholarship recipients.

Jesse Djabatey, AEP market risk analyst, inspired graduates with a speech he delivered at the Columbus Ohio American Association of Blacks In Energy scholarship reception. Photos by Caitlin Sadler.

Djabatey’s message was especially meaningful because he once sat where they were sitting. Five years ago, Djabatey also received an AABE scholarship.

During his speech, he talked about the scholarship reception he attended with his parents.

“This was the beginning of when everything in my life changed for the better,” Djabatey said. “I may not have received the greatest monetary award that night, but I went home with the most valuable award — a business card.”

Djabatey shared his story of how, as a high school senior who was tired of writing essays and attending numerous scholarship events, he arrived about five minutes late to the reception. His intention to sit quietly in the back with his parents did not go as planned.

A lady approached Djabatey and asked him to join her table. That lady happened to be Tracie Campbell, board member and past president of the Columbus Ohio Chapter of AABE.

Campbell also works for AEP Ohio as an energy efficiency marketing and advertising coordinator.

At Campbell’s table were about three to four people; among them was Brian Tierney, executive vice president and chief financial officer for AEP.

During dinner, Djabatey and Tierney struck up a conversation. Djabatey told Tierney about how he managed to simultaneously take classes in high school and college. Tierney seemed intrigued, and before he left the event he handed Djabatey his business card and told him to call him so they could talk some more.

“I don’t think it dawned on me what had just happened,” Djabatey said. “I remember Tracie kept reminding me throughout the reception that I should really follow up and call him. She said, ‘This opportunity doesn’t come around too often.’”

It was a good two weeks before he contacted him. With urging from his mother, he finally picked up his laptop and sent Tierney an email.

“As a result, Brian and I developed a relationship,” he said. “Fast forward to five years later, here I am working at AEP fulltime as a market risk analyst, after interning in the Market Risk Oversight group all four of my college years.”

Raised in Accra, Ghana, Djabatey moved to California and then to Columbus where he attended Mifflin High School. He was accepted into DeVry University’s Advantage Academy where he was able to complete college courses while in high school.

In 2011, he graduated as valedictorian of Mifflin with an associate degree of applied science in web graphic design from DeVry. In 2015, Djabatey graduated from Miami University with a Bachelor of Arts in economics.

Tracie Campbell, energy efficiency coordinator – AEP Ohio, shares a conversation with Jesse Djabatey, one of many individuals she has mentored through her work with AABE, Big Brothers Big Sisters and Junior Achievement.

AEP and AEP Ohio have been longtime supporters and corporate sponsors of the Columbus Ohio Chapter of AABE, which celebrated its 10th year awarding scholarships to help prepare young people for success. Each year, the chapter awards grants to African American, Hispanic and Native American students pursuing college in energy-related fields.

“I am so proud to work for a company that supports our youth by devoting its resources to our scholarship program, and for leaders like Brian Tierney, who gave his time to mentor Jesse,” Campbell said. “With AEP’s and AEP Ohio’s help, the Columbus Ohio Chapter of AABE has been able to award nearly $330,000 in scholarships to high school seniors in central Ohio.”

Tierney also attended the reception with [Nick Akins], AEP chairman, president and chief executive officer, and [Charles Patton], Appalachian Power president and chief operating officer, who presented the keynote address.

Djabatey ended his speech by offering the graduates some words of encouragement:

“Be prepared! You never know when an opportunity will knock at your door. If I hadn’t been prepared, I would have never made it as a recipient to this scholarship five years ago. I would have lost my golden opportunity and most certainly wouldn’t be here talking to you today.

“Whenever you find your Brian Tierney or Tracie Campbell, make sure to always show your appreciation and gratitude. I am forever thankful for the opportunity to show my talents at AEP and to my parents who always taught me to never to give up.”

Congratulations to this year’s recipients:

Lavonca Davis, Pickerington High School North. Field of Interest – Chemical Engineering

Dajah Howard, Columbus Africentric Early College. Field of Interest – Chemical Engineering

John Martin, Centerville High School. Field of Interest – Chemical Engineering

Walid Musa, Northland High School. Field of Interest – Electrical Engineering

Martha Nyarko, Mifflin High School. Field of Interest – Allied Health/Human Biology

Osaretinmwen Onaiwu, Eastmoor Academy. Field of Interest – Mechanical Engineering

Joshua Smith, Olentangy Orange High School. Field of Interest – Biological Sciences

LaMiah Tysinger, Reynoldsburg High School Encore Academy. Field of Interest – Chemical Engineering

Seven New Television Commercials Air to Bolster AEP’s Image

Employees from across the AEP system, including Elgin Janssen (above), community affairs manager for AEP Texas, will appear in seven new 30-second television commercials starting this week.

(Story by Teresa McWain)

Employees from across the AEP system will appear in seven new 30-second television commercials starting this week. The commercials will be the final installment introduced this year to create greater awareness of AEP’s commitment to customers and communities.

A total of 28 spots, four for each operating company, have been airing intermittently since winter to bring a greater focus to the work AEP employees do on the job and beyond to improve lives where they live and work.

The campaign, which also includes newsprint and digital components launched during spring and earlier this summer, will run through year end. The digital component drives viewers to a landing page for each operating company to explore additional footage, photos and the stories of employees who participated in the campaign.

See the new television commercials:

AEP Ohio  Underground: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fng2C9sBSrU

AEP Texas Habitat: https://youtu.be/NW6-ZEuEOVI

Appalachian Power Kanawha: https://youtu.be/Fflme7yViIM

Indiana Michigan Power Classroom: https://youtu.be/NQS9uvuBxTw

Kentucky Power Hospital: https://youtu.be/oRPrj4nFgtc

PSO Treeline:  https://youtu.be/vZ9IEaH2E1M

SWEPCO Park: https://youtu.be/88-KbfNn1wA

See additional campaign footage on operating company landing pages:

http://aepohio.com/OurPeople
http://aeptexas.com/OurPeople
http://appalachianpower.com/OurPeople
http://indianamichiganpower.com/OurPeople
http://kentuckypower.com/OurPeople
http://psoklahoma.com/OurPeople
http://swepco.com/OurPeople

Rockport Retiree to be Honored as Pioneering African American Athlete

Rockport Plant retiree Houston Hogg will be honored with a statue by the University of Kentucky as one of the first four African American football players at the university. Photo by: Matt Lundsford, Owensboro Messenger-Inquirer.

Editor’s Note: Houston Hogg, a retired employee of Indiana Michigan Power’s Rockport Plant in Rockport, Ind., will be honored as one of the first four African American football players at the University of Kentucky by the university in September. Hogg retired in 2013 as a coal equipment operator senior after working at the plant for 27 years. He and his wife of 44 years, Deborah, have six children and 19 grandchildren, and have been foster parents to more than 200 children over the past 25 years. The story of the former UK running back has also been featured in Owensboro Living and other publications. This story, written by Mark Mathis, was published in the Owensboro Messenger-Inquirer on July 20, 2016, and has been edited.

OWENSBORO, Ky. — Houston Hogg really measured every word he said when describing what it was like to be one of the first African American football players at the University of Kentucky (UK).

“The racial stuff, it was kind of random. I was too big that they couldn’t walk up and call me names,” Hogg said. “The teammates seemed to be (accepting), but you’ve heard ‘they smile in your face.’ There was some like, ‘I don’t want to room with him.’ I guess the worst time for me, my roommate got married and he moved out. I was in the dorm by myself. That was kind of rough. It was kind of isolated.”

Hogg, who was 6-foot-1, 235 pounds in his prime, was looking way back into time as he told those stories at his house in the Seven Hills area. After Hogg went to UK for four years in the late 1960s, he has lived, worked and raised a family in Owensboro.

Hogg came here from his hometown of Hazard before his senior year in high school, and he played one year of football at Daviess County High School. His parents found jobs in Owensboro, which caused the family to move here.

It was obviously tough for the 68-year-old to take that journey back through the decades. Leaving some stadiums, Hogg felt like he’d made it through some kind of survival drill, and in a lot of ways he had.

“(During one game), I got my bell rung, a coach was trying to put me back in, but I wouldn’t go,” Hogg said. “I don’t remember telling him I wouldn’t go in.”

A major moment Hogg does remember is a road trip to LSU.

“I’d say the worst experience was Baton Rouge,” Hogg said. “We played LSU, they beat us, the coaches gave us (food money) to go eat on. The place we went, they told us they had a place around back where they’d serve us, get it out the back window.

“A waitress told us as nice as she could, we can’t serve you two up here, you’ve got to go around back.”

There was nearly an altercation at the restaurant, and Hogg along with Wilbur Hackett made a dash back to the team hotel.

“When we got there, state police were everywhere,” Hogg said. “What got me was… that was a long time ago. All those dogs and stuff they had when we got back to the hotel. We got a letter a couple of weeks later from the governor of Louisiana, apologizing for the way they treated us.”

Hogg, Hackett, Nate Northington and the late Greg Page (not the Louisville-born boxer) were the four UK players who integrated SEC football in the late 60s.

UK will be honoring those four players with a statue that will be located in front of the new UK football practice facility that is nearly complete.

It will be unveiled at a special event on Thursday, Sept. 22. The Wildcats will host South Carolina in their first SEC home game two days later and celebrate Northington becoming the first African American to play in an SEC game on Sept. 30, 1967.

A poster honoring Northington, Page, Hackett and Hogg has been available to the public since July 16 — it features four players from this year’s team in poses modeled after the statue currently being sculpted. The poster is meant to pay tribute to the four trailblazers who paved the way for what Kentucky football is today.

The 2016 season marks 50 years since Northington and Page enrolled at UK in 1966. Page died after suffering an injury in a practice during his and Northington’s sophomore years. Northington left UK and went to Western Kentucky University.

Hogg finished his career at UK, left Lexington with a lot of tough emotions, and came back to Owensboro because his mother, Margaret Hogg, was still living here and couldn’t drive. “I came back because of her,” Houston said.

He and his wife Deborah have six children and 19 grandchildren. The influence of Hogg’s family has been deep in various athletic venues through the years, mostly at Owensboro High School, but also at Owensboro Catholic.

Hogg didn’t talk to his kids about his UK football career until they were older.

“A lot of people ask me ‘why didn’t you tell them your story when they were growing up?’ but I had a reason not to tell them,” Houston said. “I wanted them to get along with people, not to be mad at anybody for what I went through.

“I kept it from them for a long time. When they got older, we were talking, I would make a joke out of something that actually happened, and they questioned me, is that true? Yeah, that’s true.

“You’ve got to live with it, and forgive in your heart. You just can’t say I forgive you, you’ve got to really do it. If you don’t it’s going to eat you alive.”

Hogg is grateful that UK will make permanent the contributions of him and his former teammates.

“I’m honored they would do something like that,” Hogg said. “We’re talking about one of the greatest institutions around here, and they’re going to honor me with a statue. I’m proud that they are.”

Akins Discusses AEP’s Second Quarter Financial Results with Cramer on ‘Mad Money’

AEP CEO Nick Akins (right) appeared on “Mad Money with Jim Cramer” July 28

Nick Akins, AEP chairman, president and chief executive officer, spoke with Jim Cramer of “Mad Money with Jim Cramer” on CNBC July 28 following AEP’s 2016 second-quarter earnings report.

View the entire segment.

In discussing AEP’s strong second-quarter results — which beat Wall Street expectations — Cramer asked Akins if the company was surprised by its success.

“It wasn’t any surprise to us because we’ve been investing in infrastructure — particularly in transmission,” Akins answered. “The earnings profile of transmission continues to improve dramatically and also weather — we had more normal weather (in the second quarter). In previous quarters, the weather was very light. Obviously, we had a good outcome as a result.”

Cramer also noted from AEP’s earnings report that sales to both residential and commercial customers improved during the second quarter, but industrial sales declined.

“Residential and commercial customer sales both increased during the quarter and usage by customers continues to improve,” Akins said. “One issue we have is around industrial load. If you look at industrial and manufacturing, we’re seeing a slowdown from an oil and gas perspective, and mining, as well. Mining is being hit pretty hard. Within our territory, we’re seeing 22,000 less jobs in oil and gas and mining from year-to-year. That’s a substantial amount of job loss, and a lot of that was in our western territory in Arkansas, Oklahoma, Louisiana and Texas. You’re starting to see a significant slowdown in that activity. You’re seeing an 18 percent reduction on the mining side of things, so we have to watch that very closely.”

As a hedge, Akins told Cramer AEP is investing in renewables and converting some coal plants to natural gas. Cramer asked if AEP would consider purchasing a natural gas pipeline company to further expand its portfolio.

“One thing we look at is the threshold around investments,” Akins responded. “Again, we have the largest transmission system in the country, so when you look at the ability to deploy capital, you want to be able to do that wisely. Our investments really focus on transmission and other types of investments such as renewables. We continue to move into that space because we’re really focused on what the customer experience is going to be in the future. Maybe at some future time (AEP will consider pipeline investment), but we have a runway ahead of us in transmission investment that is really good for us.”

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