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AEP Texas Working to Recover After Hurricane Harvey

A pile of crumpled steel and metal is all that remains of the station house at the Live Oak Substation located in Portland, Texas. Portland is a community less than 30 miles from where Hurricane Harvey made landfall last Friday. Photo by Smokey Hays.

(Story by Omar Lopez)

AEP Texas continues the efforts to restore electricity to over 130,000 customers who remained without power Tuesday afternoon as a result of Hurricane Harvey. The storm, which reached Category 4 level when it made landfall on Friday night in Rockport, was the third storm of its size to ever strike Texas. At 2 p.m. Saturday, the number of outages peaked at 220,000 for the area.

More than 3,600 personnel from across the country have arrived in Texas to help with the restoration effort. Crews hail from Oklahoma, Louisiana, Arkansas, Kentucky, Illinois, Missouri and other parts of south Texas. That number is expected to increase to 4,600 within days.

“We’re facing hundreds of down power lines, as well as utility poles damaged by the storm,” said Tom Coad, AEP Texas vice president of Distribution Region Operations. “(On Tuesday) there are nearly 4,400 hazard tickets still being addressed throughout the Coastal Bend area and approximately 2,600 in Corpus Christi alone. We know that customers are concerned about these hazards, and we are trying to get each one as quickly as possible.”

AEP Texas employees activated the Incident Command System (ICS) days before Harvey’s arrival at the AEP Texas headquarters in Corpus Christi, within 30 miles of where the storm made landfall in Rockport.

The massive storm slowly developed momentum in the Gulf of Mexico over several days and grew from a Category 1 hurricane to a Category 4 in just over 24 hours. It hit the Texas coast with sustained winds of 130 miles per hour.

AEP CEO Nick Akins greeted an AEP Texas bucket truck as it made its way back to the Aransas Pass Service Center on Wednesday morning. Akins was visiting Corpus and the surrounding area following Hurricane Harvey.

AEP Texas estimates that at least 2,100 utility poles and 55 transmission structures were damaged or knocked down by the storm.

Destruction after the storm is massive, particularly in the small coastal cities of Rockport, Port Aransas and Aransas Pass. Preliminary reports indicate that the Aransas Pass Distribution Service Center is a complete loss.

AEP Texas projects that by Wednesday, Aug. 30, at 10 p.m. crews will have restored power to 95 percent of the customers within the City of Corpus Christi city limits, as well as the Sinton area. Most other areas affected by the storm have an ETR of 10 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 2; however, some areas such as Rockport, Aransas Pass, Port Aransas, Fulton, Woodsboro, Port Lavaca, Lamar and Bayside do not have ETRs yet, given the tremendous amount of devastation left by the storm.

Hurricane Harvey moved up the Texas coast and has now dumped a recorded 51.12 inches in the Houston area. Although no longer a hurricane, it is expected to re-enter the Gulf of Mexico and make landfall for a third time next week somewhere near Louisiana.

Please see AEPTexas.com for continuous updates on restoration efforts.

AEP Volunteers Will Make a Difference Oct. 28

(Story by Barry Schumann)

America celebrates the spirit of volunteerism this year on Make a Difference Day, Saturday, Oct. 28. The 26th annual “national day of doing good” is sponsored by TEGNA in partnership with Points of Light and is the largest national day of community service.

AEP is making a difference through a mini-grant program that encourages employees and retirees around the System to become involved in community projects in their locales.

AEP’s Make a Difference Day grants range up to $300 to help fund local projects that involve at least five AEP active or retired employees in partnership with a school or nonprofit organization on Oct. 28 as part of the nationwide event.

Each year, around two dozen local projects coordinated by AEP employees are funded through AEP’s Make a Difference Day grant program.

Projects can be as simple as helping a family in need or may be a coordinated effort serving an entire community.

Application deadline for mini-grants is Sept. 28, 2017 (the fourth Thursday in September).

Complete an on-line application at AEP.com/MDDgrant.

AEP Foundation Completes the Square

Roanoke Mayor Sherman Lea cuts a ribbon in celebration of the new Children’s Museum at Center in the Square. The museum is named for retired AEP Board of Directors member Don Smith (seated) and his wife, Barbara.

(Story by Teresa Hamilton Hall)

ROANOKE, Va. — A generous donation from the American Electric Power Foundation helped fulfill a long time dream for a retired member of AEP’s board of directors. The Don and Barbara Smith Children’s Museum opened last week to an enthusiastic crowd gathered at Roanoke’s Center in the Square.

AEP Chairman, President and CEO Nick Akins and AEP Executive Vice President for External Affairs Charles Patton joined Appalachian Power President and COO Chris Beam for the Aug. 15 ribbon-cutting ceremony.

The AEP Foundation contributed $250,000 toward construction of the children’s museum. Don Smith served on the AEP Board of Directors for more than a dozen years and is a retired CEO and chairman of the board of Roanoke Electric Steel.

Smith applauded the AEP Foundation for its support. “This dream is now a reality,” Smith told the crowd gathered for the museum’s opening day.

The Children’s Museum – known as Kids’ Square – is located on the third floor of Center in the Square.

The museum’s highlight is an exhibit called Our Town that lets children participate in activities that mirror how citizens live and work in a community. The exhibit includes a bank, grocery store, classroom, hospital room, dentist’s office, and vet clinic, among others.

Roanoke Mayor Sherman Lea and several enthusiastic children cut a ribbon signifying the grand opening. Guests were then invited to tour the museum and take photos.

The AEP Foundation is funded by American Electric Power and its utility operating units.

The Foundation provides a permanent, ongoing resource for charitable initiatives involving higher dollar values and multi-year commitments in the communities served by AEP and initiatives outside of AEP’s 11-state service area.

Obituaries

Appalachian Power Company

Fredrick Bonham, 90, retired, Beckley Service Center, died June 27.

Oren Hawley, 93, retired, Abingdon Service Center, died July 14.

William Hohman Jr., 44, Amos Plant, died July 23.

Norman Mora, 88, retired, Sporn Plant, died July 2.

John Ratcliffe, 72, retired, Bluefield Office, died July 3.

Donald Scales, 67, Clinch River Plant, died July 13.

Frank Williams, 74, Central Machine Shop, died July 17.

Columbus Southern Power Company

Glenn Hursey, 82, retired, 850 Tech Center, died July 5.

Sidney Kloes, 81, retired, 850 Tech Center, died July 5.

Indiana Michigan Power Company

William Southworth, 72, Cook Nuclear Plant, died July 24.

Kentucky Power Company

David Henderson, 60, Big Sandy Plant, died July 3.

Ohio Power Company

Paul Cardone, 73, Gavin Plant, died July 3.

Richard Lee, 79, Kammer Plant, died June 26.

Richard Oberholtzer, 86, retired, Steubenville Service Center, died July 23.

Robert Smith, 93, retired, Southern Ohio Coal Company, died July 5.

James Trimmer, 96, retired, Canton Eastern Regional Office, died July 27.

Public Service Company of Oklahoma

James Jones, 80, retired, Tulsa General Office, died July 18.

Lea McVay, 82, retired, Tulsa General Office, died July 23.

Texas Central

Arthur Castillo, 67, Central Shops, died July 14.

Vernon Clausen, 83, retired, Corpus Christi Office, died June 23.

Herbert Collins, 66, Marshall Office, died July 9.

J.W. Goble, 79, retired, Corpus Christi Office, died July 3.

Danny Jurado, 58, Marfa Service Center, died June 17.

N.R. Luedecke, 80, retired, Corpus Christi Office, died July 10.

Dolores Martinez, 84, retired, Corpus Christi Office, died July 9.

Donald Shuttlesworth, 93, retired, Corpus Christi Office, died July 17.

Texas North

J.E. Allard, 84, retired, Abilene General Office, died June 28.

J.R. Casillas, 83, retired, Abilene General Office, died June 17.

July Retirements

AEP Ohio

Debra Alessandro, Canton General Service Center, retired July 20 after 36 years of service.

Ricky Ashbaugh, Van Wert Service Center, retired July 4 after 36 years of service.

Kenneth Boldman, Chillicothe Service Center, retired July 27 after 32 years of service.

Dennis Daugherty, 825 Tech Center, retired July 8 after 20 years of service.

Roger Frohnapfel, Wheeling Service Building, retired July 1 after 40 years of service.

Michael Hoagland, Mt. Vernon Service Center, retired July 26 after 37 years of service.

Stephen Hopkins, Chillicothe Service Center, retired July 24 after 38 years of service.

Robert Lent, Chillicothe Service Center, retired July 24 after 37 years of service.

Ronald McCathran, Grandview Service Center, retired July 29 after 44 years of service.

Kenneth Prince, Bucyrus Service Center, retired July 8 after 39 years of service.

Steven Sloma, Tiffin Service Center, retired July 8 after 32 years of service.

Meredith Weatherhead, Steubenville Service Center, retired July 1 after 37 years of service.

AEP Service Corporation

Joseph Hartsoe, Washington Office, retired July 8 after 15 years of service.

Rebecca Keener, AEP Headquarters, retired July 6 after 21 years of service.

Robert Lewandowski, AEP Headquarters, retired July 22 after 31 years of service.

David Miller, AEP Headquarters, retired July 15 after 33 years of service.

Randall Port, 850 Tech Center, retired July 29 after 38 years of service.

Kevin Stogran, AEP Headquarters, retired July 7 after 37 years of service.

Agnes Voon, AEP Headquarters, retired July 6 after 20 years of service.

Ken Waters Jr., AEP Headquarters, retired July 1 after 14 years of service.

Ken Zimmerman, AEP Headquarters, retired July 1 after 38 years of service.

AEP Texas

Harold Ashley, Kingsville Central Distribution Center, retired July 1 after 50 years of service.

Chris Crutchfield, Victoria Service Center, retired July 1 after 35 years of service.

Debra Duncan, McCamey Service Center, retired July 18 after 35 years of service.

Marcia Morgan, Corpus Christi Office, retired July 22 after 34 years of service.

Felix Rodriguez III, Western Division Office, retired July 29 after 47 years of service.

Michael Stavinoha, Victoria Service Center, retired July 1 after 32 years of service.

Appalachian Power Company

Daniel Cowan, APCO Headquarters Building, retired July 6 after 24 years of service.

Timothy Crane, Roanoke Service Building, retired July 8 after 24 years of service.

Deborah Ferron, Rocky Mount Service Center, retired July 26 after 33 years of service.

Melinda Gibbs, Roanoke Main Office, retired July 1 after 31 years of service.

Robin Hagy, Roanoke Main Office, retired July 1 after 26 years of service.

Anthony Holland, Fieldale Office, retired July 1 after 30 years of service.

Gilliam Kidd Jr., Lovingston Service Center, retired July 1 after 37 years of service.

Janice Venable, Virginia State Office, retired July 15 after 10 years of service.

Generation

Jimmy Adkins, Amos Plant, retired July 1 after 27 years of service.

Vicki Alison, Lieberman Power Plant, retired July 26 after 36 years of service.

Frank Ballog, Cardinal Plant, retired July 1 after 10 years of service.

Thomas Briggs, Cardinal Plant, retired July 5 after 42 years of service.

Michael Buckle, Amos Plant, retired July 1 after 39 years of service.

Ralph Davidson Jr., Cook Nuclear Plant, retired July 18 after 24 years of service.

Shirley Dilbeck, Flint Creek Plant, retired July 1 after 38 years of service.

Jack Howard, Weleetka Power Station, retired July 1 after 34 years of service.

Michael Maggard, Northeastern Station 3&4, retired July 13 after 35 years of service.

Randy Mantei, Cook Nuclear Plant, retired July 1 after 36 years of service.

Gregory Mashak, Cook Nuclear Plant, retired July 8 after 31 years of service.

Gale Phillips, Cook Nuclear Plant, retired July 26 after 17 years of service.

Randall Randolph, Mountaineer Plant, retired July 8 after 38 years of service.

Daniel Smith, Amos Plant, retired July 1 after 34 years of service.

Ronald Steele, Mountaineer Plant, retired July 1 after 37 years of service.

Ellen Vickery, Knox Lee Plant, retired July 15 after 28 years of service.

Indiana Michigan Power Company

Mickey Bellville, Buchanan Nuclear Office, retired July 7 after 20 years of service.

William Hix, One Summit Square, retired July 1 after 38 years of service.

Jeffrey Stout, Spy Run Service Center, retired July 29 after 24 years of service.

Southwestern Electric Power Company

William Collinsworth, Dolet Hills Lignite Mine, retired July 31 after 30 years of service.

Bobby Halton, Longview Operations, retired July 1 after 38 years of service.

Benjamin James, Shreveport Operations, retired July 18 after 40 years of service.

Kenneth Manson, Longview Operations, retired July 14 after 39 years of service.

Maureen Peters, Shreveport Office, retired July 21 after 38 years of service.

Transmission

Donald Leibengood, Fostoria Service Center, retired July 29 after 44 years of service.

Peter Martinez, La Palma Transmission Office, retired July 1 after 44 years of service.

Judith Moser, Transmission Operations Center, retired July 1 after 18 years of service.

David Wright, John W. Vaughan Center, retired July 1 after 35 years of service.

Former AEP Executive Bill Lhota, 77, Passes Away

Bill Lhota

William J. (Bill) Lhota, 77, passed away Aug. 10 after a battle with pancreatic cancer.

Lhota retired from AEP as executive vice president-energy delivery after a 37-year career at the company. At retirement, he was in charge of AEP’s power transmission and distribution systems in 11 states.

He began his career with AEP in 1965 when he joined Ohio Power Company as an associate engineer in transmission. He held various positions at Ohio Power, including transmission and distribution engineering manager and executive assistant to the president.

He was named senior vice president-operations in 1983 and president and chief operations officer for Columbus Southern Power Company from 1987-89. He also served as executive vice president-operations (1989-96), executive vice president-energy delivery and customer relations (1996-2000) and executive vice president-energy delivery (2000-2001). Lhota retired from the company Jan. 1, 2001.

During Lhota’s 37-year career, he had extensive experience in public policy and labor relations. Lhota had day-to-day responsibility for public policy in Washington and in Ohio for over four years and supervised both Washington and state public policy for over 18 years. Lhota worked with organized labor throughout his career and was instrumental in establishing cooperative relations between AEP and it’s labor unions.

Lhota most recently served as president and chief executive officer for the Central Ohio Transit Authority (COTA) and was a director of Huntington Bancshares Inc. He also served as chairman of the Columbus Municipal Airport Authority, the National Society of Professional Engineers Board of Ethical Review, the Ohio Chamber of Commerce and the Greater Columbus Chamber of Commerce.

He earned a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from The Ohio State University 1964, and a master’s degree in management from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge in 1978. He was a registered professional engineer in Ohio , Michigan and New York, and a member of the National Society of Professional Engineers, American Society of Civil Engineers and the Ohio Society of Professional Engineers.

He is survived by his wife, Susan, and daughter, Ann. A son preceded him in death.

We Care

AEP’s July We Care safety poster features AEP Texas retiree John Flowers.

Formal Apprenticeship and GI Education Benefits Soon Available for Transmission Training

Recognition of AEP Transmission’s Technical Skills training program standards by the Department of Labor enables AEP Transmission line mechanics who are U.S. military veterans (or currently serve in the National Guard or Reserve) to apply for GI Bill benefit programs.

(Story by Linda O’horo)

In June, the U.S. Department of Labor approved the AEP Transmission Technical Skills training program standards, meeting the National Standard of Apprenticeship and recognizing journeyworker transmission line mechanics as a part of the National Apprenticeship System.

This recognition enables AEP Transmission line mechanics who are U.S. military veterans (or currently serve in the National Guard or Reserve) to apply for GI Bill benefit programs.

Scott Smith, senior vice president of Transmission Field Services and Controls, is excited about this opportunity which positively impacts our recruiting and retention strategies, while assisting military veterans and their family members in their new career path.

An Army veteran, Smith is an Executive Sponsor of AEP’s Military Veteran Employee Resource Group. Eleven percent of AEP employees are military veterans.

“Currently we have a strong need here, with about 150 open positions in Transmission Field Services,” Smith explained. “I view this program as a win-win for both AEP and veterans. We find that, generally, military veterans are a good fit for Transmission jobs for a number of reasons. We know that they are used to, and like being team players. They also understand the importance of following safety procedures.”

Tom Householder, AEP managing director of labor relations, said, “AEP, The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW), and the Utility Workers Union of America (UWUA) have worked together to create employment opportunities for veterans who have served our nation. This apprenticeship program and the ones run nationally by the IBEW and the Building and Construction Trade Unions create opportunities for veterans to ‘earn while they learn’ now, to create a great career with a certified set of skills for the future.”

Marketta Franklin, technical training manager, added that this blue chip project has been in motion for a few years. “Our commitment to implementing this program was reinforced by a number of veterans enthusiastically contacting us, and requesting AEP’s participation in this program. Giving our veterans the opportunity to take advantage of these benefits is a way to show our appreciation and gratitude for their service. We see it as a win-win that we will allow our linemen (even those who are not veterans) to be recognized as national qualified journeymen.

“We are currently closing the loop with the government agencies, and are excited to launch this program,” Franklin added. The T-Line group will soon receive targeted communications about this training opportunity.

For more information about AEP Transmission’s apprenticeship training, contact Rebecca King, Training Center administrator for the ApprenticeshipUSA program, at (740) 964-5418 (rrking@aep.com), or Marketta Franklin (740) 964-5483 (mlfranklin@aep.com).

Learn more about ApprenticeshipUSA: https://www.dol.gov/apprenticeship/.

 

Kentucky Power Leads Effort to Build Eastern Kentucky as an Aerospace Industry Corridor

Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin, center, is joined by Kentucky Power’s Matt Satterwhite and Brad Hall, right, as well as representatives from Braidy Industries, One East Kentucky, Ashland Alliance and  secretary for the state Cabinet for Economic Development at the Paris Air Show. Photo submitted by Brad Hall.

(Story by Allison Barker)

ASHLAND, Ky. – Soon after Matt Satterwhite was named Kentucky Power president and COO last year, he immediately asked what is next for economic development in eastern Kentucky. His staff quickly responded aerospace manufacturing.

In fact, Kentucky ranks as the No. 2 state for aerospace manufacturing exports behind only Washington, home to aerospace giant Boeing.

Kentucky Power has been working on setting the stage for growth in the aerospace industry for years. Kentucky Power External Affairs Manager Brad Hall worked in collaboration with local, regional and state leaders to capture part of the growing aerospace business.

Kentucky Power worked with its local partners to commission a leading aerospace consultant to determine the viability of aerospace in Appalachia’s coal and steel country. The consultant certified 17 counties as AeroReady in the Tri-State region of Kentucky, Ohio and West Virginia, furthering the claim that aerospace can thrive in the area.

Satterwhite suggested the partners take the good story about eastern Kentucky to the Paris Air Show. This annual event is the center of the aerospace business. It is the largest airshow of the year where manufacturing deals are made with aviation and aerospace industrial leaders from around the globe. If you want to get on the map for investment by aerospace companies, you do it at the Paris Air Show.

Satterwhite and Hall put together a team that included Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin, Cabinet for Economic Development Secretary Terry Gill, Braidy Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Craig Bouchard, as well as regional economic development partners One East Kentucky and Ashland Alliance. The Kentucky group conducted 23 recruitment meetings over four days, including 14 with CEOs of major aerospace and defense companies, such as Boeing, Airbus and Lockheed Martin.

“Before this year, many companies were not interested in Kentucky,” Satterwhite said. “They had no clue Kentucky was No. 2 in aerospace exports. In fact, they told us that we were not even on their radar before, but now we are at the top. We successfully changed their view of Kentucky, and especially eastern Kentucky.”

Satterwhite said a collaborative approach set the Kentucky team apart from other states at the air show.

“We already had working partnerships with government, business and regional leaders and could show success,” Satterwhite said. “Our cooperation showed that Kentucky is open for and friendly toward business. We are currently following up on leads from the show and I am confident this work will lead to development in eastern Kentucky.”

Satterwhite said the air show and partnership with the state and other partners helps Kentucky Power advance its plans to revitalize and diversify industry in eastern Kentucky through economic development. Dubbed Appalachian Sky, the initiative’s purpose is to aggressively attract aerospace and aviation industry to the central Appalachia region. Appalachian Sky was inspired by the intelligence and work ethic of the coal mining communities as captured in the movie “October Sky.”

The work that led to creation of Appalachian Sky was sparked by the completion of a comprehensive regional workforce analysis in American Electric Power’s Kentucky service territory. The research showed that coal miners and steelworkers, many of whom have lost their jobs when their operations closed in recent years, have the metal working skills that many aerospace companies need. The study, led by Eastern Kentucky Concentrated Employment Program (EKCEP), was funded with economic development grants from Kentucky Power and other economic development partners in the region. The study concluded that there were eight times the national average of skilled metal workers in the region.

“Eastern Kentucky is primed for economic growth and Kentucky Power is committed to leading this charge forward with economic development,” Satterwhite said. “Economic development is at the core of our vision at Kentucky Power for a strong eastern Kentucky. The biggest driver in our increasing rates is the loss of customers and industry and that comes from a loss of jobs and places to go to work.

“Those of us left behind are left to pay the fixed costs of running an electric system designed to serve everyone. That is why Kentucky Power is so focused on flipping the script to change the equation and focus on increasing jobs and industry to spread the costs across more customers. The air show is proof that government and business can work together. I can honestly say that we should be optimistic and continue working together to make this a reality. In fact, I dare say the future is bright and the sky is the limit.”

AEP Announces Plan To Add 2,000 MW Of Wind Power

(Story by Rachel Hammer)

AEP July 26 announced plans for the Wind Catcher Energy Connection project. The Wind Catcher project will provide 2,000 megawatts (MW) of new wind energy for customers in Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma and Texas.

The $4.5 billion project includes the wind farm and an approximately 350-mile, dedicated, extra-high voltage (765 kV) power line. Invenergy LLC is developing the wind farm located in Oklahoma’s western panhandle. The power line will connect the wind farm to AEP’s transmission system near Tulsa.

SWEPCO will own 70 percent of the project, including 1,400 MW of wind. PSO will own 30 percent of the project, including 600 MW of wind. The companies plan to file July 31 with regulators in the four states for approvals. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) also must approve the project.

The project will provide clean energy to customers and will reduce customer rates beginning in 2021, its first year of operation. The project is expected to boost economic development through construction and permanent jobs, property taxes, and components produced in states served by PSO and SWEPCO.

Please read the news releases for additional information.