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Akins discusses polar vortex, cybersecurity on CNBC’s ‘Closing Bell’ program

by on April 30, 2014

Nick Akins, AEP chairman, president and chief executive officer, discussed this past winter’s polar vortex and its effects — both positive and negative — on the electric utility industry, grid reliability and cybersecurity during an April 25 interview on CNBC’s “Closing Bell” news program.

AEP CEO Nick Akins appeared on CNBC’s “Closing Bell” April 25.

“The polar vortex certainly had a big impact on energy usage throughout the country and we certainly benefited from that,” Akins said.

Just how much did it help companies like AEP?

“It was substantial as far as the increase (in usage) is concerned,” Akins answered. “We were utilizing every bit of capacity we had available and when you think about that period of time, our industrial, commercial and residential usage were all way up as a result of the weather.”

Turning to cybersecurity, Akins was asked if the power grid in the U.S. is particularly vulnerable to attacks.

“I think from a cybersecurity perspective, we have a great relationship with the federal government and we’re using tools that the government has in place (to battle cyber attacks),” Akins said. “We’re also focused on security clearances and the systems in place to not only ensure reliability of the grid from a resiliency standpoint but also from a cybersecurity effort to make sure we’re capturing those threats as they come in.”

Just how many threats does AEP encounter over the course of a month or year?

“You have everything from simple phishing exercises to other efforts where they’re trying to get at equipment or systems,” Akins noted. “Typically from the phishing exercises, you can have thousands, but certainly less so from those that are trying to encroach into information that we have relative to use of our assets.”

Where do they come from? Are they attacks from inside the United States or are they international attacks?

“Well, you know, a lot of it we don’t talk about but obviously there are nation-states that are involved, and there are other groups that are involved both internationally and domestically,” Akins answered, “and we watch for certain areas and certain countries.”

CNBC reporters also noted in their introduction that, on a day when the stock market was down, AEP — powered by its strong first-quarter earnings report, hit a new 52-week high.

From → News From AEP

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