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Moving boldly into the future

by on January 13, 2016

Nick Akins, AEP chairman, president and chief executive officer, appears on the cover of the January/February 2016 edition of Electric Perspectives magazine, the magazine of the Edison Electric Institute. The article is titled Moving Boldly into the Future.

AEP CEO Nick Akins appears on the cover of the January/February edition of Electric Perspectives magazine. Graphic courtesy of EEI.

“There’s no doubt about it — our companies, customers, and society are moving to a cleaner energy future,” said Akins in the article. “With low-cost and abundant natural gas, new technologies, and environmental regulations as catalysts, the electric utility industry is leading this transition and creating a much smarter, resource-diverse energy system.”

Read the entire article.

As part of the process, Akins said, AEP is redefining its 100-year-old business model and developing the solutions and technologies its customers want, while continuing its core mission of providing safe, reliable and affordable power.

“We’re creating a new business model — Utility 2.0 — by capitalizing on our reputation as the energy experts and innovating to adapt the legacy electric system to the changing world,” Akins said.

“A national energy plan that leverages our country’s vast resources and lays out a reasonable pace for this transition would provide critical support for our efforts,” he added.

As opposed to the traditional one-directional utility model of the past, which was focused on generation, transmission and distribution, Akins said AEP today is focused on infrastructure investments and improving the customer experience, “supported by an evolving two-way data and power flow that can enhance the operation of the grid and connectivity with customers.

“We’re also unleashing the power of our employees to create an engaged, creative and collaborative culture — one that will be agile in responding to the challenges we face and that will allow us to develop and take advantage of new opportunities,” he added.

Akins noted that modernizing the electric grid is critical to support this cleaner energy future. He said that evolution is already under way, with significant investments being made to accommodate changing generation resources and further optimize power flows.

Akins said, “As the industry’s transmission pioneer and the nation’s largest transmission owner, AEP is committed to creating the grid for the future — a grid that is much more flexible and resilient to support generation changes and these new technologies.”

He cited the company’s Breakthrough Overhead Line Design (BOLDTM) as AEP’s most recent transmission development. The BOLD line is designed to achieve higher capacity, less impedance and line loss and improved reliability in a compact, visually appealing form.

Akins also noted in the article that AEP is focused on security — both physical and cyber security — for the electrical grid and its facilities across 11 states. He pointed out that AEP and seven other utilities recently created Grid AssuranceTM to provide subscribing companies with quicker, cost-effective access to critical transmission equpment in cases of prolonged transmission outages stemming from events such as natural disasters, terrorist or criminal attacks, cyberattacks, or geomagnetic and solar storms.

These students are among more than 6,000 in five AEP communities who are benefitting from the AEP Foundation’s Credits Count program.

Other topics he discussed in the article included:

Developing a Smarter System — Akins said smart grid technologies are an important part of the industry’s efforts to improve service quality and reliability and to empower customers to use energy more efficiently.

Delivering Value — “The grid of the future will be the foundation to enable customer choice, but I see our role as much more than provding just a ‘plug and play’ platform,” said Akins. He said AEP is focused on being the trusted energy advisor for its customers.

Investing in Energy Storage — Although the cost currently exceeds what the market will support for broad-based adoption, Akins said energy storage technology continues to advance.

Harnessing Renewable Resources — “The rapid growth of solar energy, which accounted for more than 30 percent of our nation’s new generating capacity in 2014, illustrates the huge opportunity for our industry to continue investing in renewables,” Akins said.

Unleashing the Power of Employees — Akins noted that AEP began a culture initiative three years ago to find out ways to tap each employee’s contributions. “Ensuring we have a diverse, entrepreneurial team is critical for AEP and the industry,” he said, “especially as many of our seasoned employees prepare to retire.”

Developing the Next Generation — “As an industry that must have skilled, innovative employees, it’s important for us to help make sure students have access to the type of education that will cultivate the reasoning and problem-solving skills they will need to be successful,” Akins said. “The business challenges we face require our employees to be agile, think creatively, make smart decisions, take advantage of new tools and technologies, and use resources in the most effective and efficient ways.” In 2013, the AEP Foundation launched Credits CountSM, a dual-enrollment program that is helping to build career pathways for economically disadvantaged students in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

 

From → News From AEP

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