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Good Catch in Arkansas Prevents Public Safety Incident

SWEPCO meter reader Christopher Brookover kept an apartment maintenance repairman from possible injury.

(Story by Karen Wissing)

Christopher Brookover, a meter reader for Southwestern Electric Power Company (SWEPCO), had an order for new service at an apartment in Murfreesboro, Arkansas, in early February. Before completing the task, Brookover noticed a hot water heater outside apartment 19 – the exact apartment in need of new service.

After knocking on the apartment’s door and realizing no one was there, Brookover decided to try to find the apartment complex’s maintenance worker. Instead, he found a tenant and asked her to help him find the worker.

The maintenance repairman, who was on his way back to the job, had left the complex to get a part needed to change out the hot water heater.

“If it would have been me in his shoes, I would have come back to the apartment and assumed the electricity was still off,” said Brookover.

Thanks to Brookover’s Good Catch, the maintenance worker avoided the risk of being shocked.

Once the maintenance worker returned, Brookover connected the service, but turned the outside breaker off.

“I told him to treat those wires as if they’re hot just in case they’re being fed from a different source.”

Brookover, who has been with the company four years this month, said he was trained well when he was hired. He notes this Good Catch, as well as others he has detected, are “just me doing my job.”

“In order to achieve Zero Harm, you’ve got to be vigilant,” said Brookover. “You’ve got to not only protect yourself, but your co-workers, customers – all of them. You’ve got be observant.”

AEP Employees Win EPRI Technology Transfer Awards

From left: AEP’s Bud Clark and Jodi Cannon receive their EPRI Technology Transfer Award from Rob Manning, EPRI vice president of transmission and distribution.

Three more AEP employees have received prestigious Technology Transfer Awards from the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) for their achievements in research and development (R&D).

Presented annually, EPRI’s Technology Transfer Awards recognize power system leaders and innovators who have helped their companies deliver safe, affordable, reliable, and environmentally responsible electricity via the application of R&D in the utility industry.

The following AEP employees received Technology Transfer Awards:

Jodi Cannon and Bud Clark for developing internal electrification teams, establishing electrification programs, and working with customers to advance targeted electrification technologies. These targeted technologies were identified through EPRI’s case study work for AEP under the electrification initiative.

AEP’s Carlos Casablanca (left) receives an EPRI Technology Transfer Award on behalf of Robert O’Keefe from Mark McGranaghan, EPRI vice president of distribution utilization.

Robert O’Keefe for applying the Load Component Export Tool (LCET) to determine reasonable, initial parameter values for the composite load model. The composite load model was applied to studies of an import-limited area of the AEP system where dynamic load behavior is a particularly critical factor in the determination of those import limits.

“The 2016 Technology Transfer Award winners have taken EPRI R&D to new levels in order to shape a sustainable energy system,” said Arshad Mansoor, senior vice president of R&D at EPRI. “Working in a collaborative environment, their advancements benefit their utility and the entire industry because we all have a stake in power system transformation.”

 

Three One-Year Memberships to WiNUP to be Awarded

The Women’s International Network of Utility Professionals (WiNUP) is an association dedicated to providing professional development, networking and mentoring for women in the utility and energy industries. Founded as the Electrical Women’s Roundtable in New York in 1923, WiNUP currently has more than 400 members. Because AEP is a major supporter of WiNUP, three AEP employees/retirees will be awarded a free one-year membership.winup

To be eligible for the free membership:

•    Your completed application form must be received by February 28, 2017. Winners will be notified by March 15, 2017.
•    Applicants must be a current AEP employee or AEP retiree.
•    You do not need to be a WiNUP member to apply.
• 2017 Awardees will be eligible to re-apply in 2019.

More information about WiNUP is available at WINUP.org.

 

 

 

 

AEP Named One of Fortune’s World’s Most Admired Companies for Fourth Consecutive Year

AEP has been named to Fortune magazine’s World’s Most Admired Companies list in the electric and gas utilities sector for the fourth year in a row. The survey measures nine attributes related to financial performance and corporate reputation.

“This recognition reflects our employees’ commitment to producing and delivering the safe, reliable energy that powers our homes and businesses, while investing in our communities and providing solid returns to our shareholders,” said Nick Akins, AEP’s chairman, president and chief executive officer. “AEP has a rich history of innovation, operational excellence and financial strength. As we transform into a next generation energy company, we are building upon this legacy and developing a smarter energy system to provide our customers with new technologies, more flexibility and cleaner sources of energy than ever before.”

Each year, Fortune surveys top executives, directors and financial analysts about the companies in their industry based upon nine criteria: financial soundness, use of corporate assets, long-term investment value, quality of management, quality of products and services, people management, innovation, social responsibility, and global competitiveness. A total of 680 companies from 28 countries were surveyed to arrive at this year’s list.

AEP debuted on the list at No. 7 in the industry in 2014, held steady at No. 5 in 2015 and 2016, and moved up to No. 3 this year.

See the complete list.

 

AEP Employees Work With Students in Adaptive Toy Project

AEP's John Garlitz (left) and a student partner figure out how to take apart a talking dinosaur toy.

AEP’s John Garlitz (left) and a student partner figure out how to take apart a talking dinosaur toy.

National Engineers Week is Feb. 19 – 25. This year, AEP is looking not just at our own engineers, but at what our engineers are doing to help develop the next generation of engineers. This story also shows how AEP employees and students are helping children with special needs. 

The sounds of conversation and laughter at Smith Laboratory at The Ohio State University mingled with buzzing, ringing, clanging, and the voice of the furry red Sesame Street character Elmo repeating phrases and singing songs.

On one wall in the crowded room, above the wood-and-steel work tables, stood rows of shelves filled with colorful boxes and packages of toys.

This was no ordinary college-level engineering workshop, but rather a very special one.

AEP employees recently worked with Ohio State students to get hands-on learning about the OSU College of Engineering’s Toy Adaptation Program (TAP).

Employees involved were Jeff Aylor, IT software developer lead; Pat Collins, software developer senior, IT; Mike Crichton, principal engineer, Quality Assurance Services, Generation; Dennis DeVendra, manager, IT; John Garlitz, engineer, Turbine/Generator & Piping Systems, Generation; Becky Naugle, coordinator associate, East Transmission Planning; and Joshua Sebourn, manager, IT. Justin Bonifield, project coordinator with APEX for Transmission Grid Development, also participated.

Adapting toys is the process of changing them to allow people with special needs to use and play with them. The activity involves adding switches, buttons or other devices that allow the toy to be more fully and easily used.

TAP combines basic engineering work, community service and partnerships, mentoring future engineers, and delivering on a need for children with disabilities.

“Adaptive toys are used in occupational therapy, and for those with special needs to help them learn independent play, and cause and effect,” said DeVendra, co-chair of the ADAPT Employee Resource Group. “It’s a way to make toys more accessible for people to use them.”

Workshop participants carefully disassemble toys, rewire and solder wiring attached to new switches, test the toys, then carefully reassemble them and put them back in their original packaging to look brand new.

It sounds easy, but getting these toys to talk, spin, light up and move around successfully with their adaptations in about two hours takes careful planning, attention to detail and let’s-put-our-heads-together teamwork.

“It involves reverse engineering and a focus on detail,” said Sebourn, co-chair of ADAPT ERG.  “You have to figure out how to take the toy apart logically, plan the location of the adaptive piece so the toy will still fit together, make sure it works, reassemble it, and make sure it looks like it’s brand new.”

The toys in the afternoon’s project included Let’s Imagine Elmo, Talking 123 Cookie Monster, Bows-A-Glow Minnie, Shake and Sounds Learning Pup, Fubbles Bump and Bubbles Robot, Walkin’ & Talkin’ Arlo (a fuzzy green dinosaur), and Spin & Learn Color Flashlight.

“We can tear apart and reassemble a turbine generator, but this flashlight toy is kicking our butts – we can’t figure out how to get it apart,” Crichton said jokingly. “I did this last year and found it was extremely rewarding, so I decided to try to set up a time when other AEP employees could get involved.”

Liz Riter, co-director of TAP, advises a scholars program at the College of Engineering. “We just put the word out about toy workshops and people show up to volunteer. There’s no regular membership, and it’s not a course with academic credits. We have a mix of scholars, honors students, women in engineering, and other students,” she said. The program has been in place at the college since 2015.

TAP’s toys are donated to a toy adoption program at OSU’s Nisonger Center for children with developmental disabilities, and to Katelyn’s Kloset, a toy-lending library in Hilliard associated with Easter Seals. TAP also works with Heinzerling Foundation, which provides services to people with Alzheimer’s disease, Nationwide Children’s Hospital and with other central Ohio businesses and organizations.

Read more – https://www.osu.edu/features/2016/toys-that-touch-hearts.html

Learn more – http://u.osu.edu/osutap

To donate – http://go.osu.edu/osutap

 

AEP Employees Win EPRI Technology Transfer Awards

AEP employees Michael Crichton (left) and James Bateman (right) receive EPRI Technology Transfer awards from Tom Alley, EPRI vice president, Generation.

A total of nine AEP employees received prestigious Technology Transfer Awards from the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) Feb. 7 for their achievements in research and development (R&D).

Presented annually, EPRI’s Technology Transfer Awards recognize power system leaders and innovators who have helped their companies deliver safe, affordable, reliable, and environmentally responsible electricity via the application of R&D in the utility industry.

The following AEP employees received Technology Transfer Awards:

Dean Bell, Michael Finneran, Ryan Forbes, Thomas Hart, Amanda Torgerson and Wayne Whipple for evaluating performance of a fixed structure concept for control of mercury emissions. The AEP team took on the challenge to design, install, and construct the commercial system and completed numerous tests.

In the project, AEP and FirstEnergy field-tested the EPRI-patented sorbent polymer composite (SPC) technology for mercury control, validating earlier laboratory and pilot testing and demonstrating the soundness of the concept. SPC provides utilities with a viable option for mercury and sulfur dioxide (SO2) emission control at plants equipped with a wet scrubber.

From left, AEP employees Michael Finneran, Wayne Whipple, Dean Bell and Thomas Hart receive awards from Tom Alley.

James Bateman, Michael Carothers and Michael Crichton for applying the guidance contained in EPRI research of the Welding Method 6 — alternative weld repair methods for advanced steel alloy components in power plants. Developed as part of a multi-national research project, the welding methods preserve the integrity of the material while reducing outage times. AEP represents the very first industry-detailed application of Welding Method 6. In this project, AEP used the alternative weld repair method in 14 repairs of reheater tubing.

“The 2016 Technology Transfer Award winners have taken EPRI R&D to new levels in order to shape a sustainable energy system,” said Arshad Mansoor, senior vice president of R&D at EPRI. “Working in a collaborative environment, their advancements benefit their utility and the entire industry because we all have a stake in power system transformation.”

 

Employees Share Good Catch Story

Floyd Mutter

(Story by Teresa Hall)

ABINGDON, Va. — Damage to the three-phase buck-arm pole struck by a tractor trailer in downtown Abingdon was undeniable, but a plan to safely replace the weighted-down pole wasn’t nearly as apparent until a curious off-duty employee drove up and put his decades of experience to work.

Floyd Mutter’s contributions caught the attention of Kingsport District Manager Isaac Webb who worked with Distribution Systems Supervisor Tony Miller to gather the details and submit it as a Good Catch.

“It didn’t matter that it was Floyd’s day off,” said Webb. “He saw the damage and stopped to help. He assessed the situation and took the time to not only assist, but teach the crew by sharing his ideas and a common sense approach that worked.”

A crane safely lifts a damaged power pole so that crews can remove a tractor trailer hauling a low boy.

The power pole broke in three spots when it was struck by a tractor trailer hauling a low boy.

As the truck driver attempted to make a right turn at the intersection, the back tire of the low boy clipped the bottom of the pole, which was weighted down with conductors, cable, street and traffic lights.

With more than three decades of experience in the utility field, Mutter, a line servicer, offered a valuable suggestion to the team that worked and kept the crew and public safe. He encouraged the crew to contact a nearby crane company for assistance.

In 20 minutes, a crane operator was on site and used the machinery to lift up on the pole arms, which allowed the crews to safely remove the truck and begin work to remove and replace the pole and equipment without line of fire and stored energy issues.

Miller said that Mutter’s actions exemplified the Power Up and Lead concept of Shadow of the Leader.

Mutter took the time to stop on his day off and coach the employees through a challenging situation.

Akins Discusses Earnings Report on ‘Mad Money’ with Cramer

AEP CEO Nick Akins appeared on CNBC’s “Mad Money with Jim Cramer” program Jan. 26.

Nick Akins, AEP chairman, president and chief executive officer, appeared on CNBC’s “Mad Money with Jim Cramer” program Jan. 26 and discussed fourth quarter and year-end earnings results and the company’s growth strategy for the future.

View the video.

In reviewing AEP’s financial results for the quarter and 2016, Cramer remarked that the company is an “incredible dividend-paying machine,” and asked Akins if he thought the dividend could go even higher in the future.

“I really believe that’s the case,” Akins answered, “because we restated earnings, we talked about a growth rate that transitioned the company from a 4-to-6 percent growth rate to 5-to-7 percent growth rate, and we’ve always said — with our Board’s support — that we move the dividend commensurate with our earnings growth.”

Akins also reported that AEP finally saw a glimmer of hope on the load-growth front. For the first time in more than a year, the company saw positive retail sales growth in the fourth quarter of 2016.

“Over the year, it’s (load growth) been really flat, but in the fourth quarter, we started to see improvement from an oil and gas perspective in our service territory, from an an automobile manufacturing standpoint, and from a construction and health care perspective,” Akins said. “This is the first quarter in over a year that we’ve seen growth in all the sectors.”

During his campaign and early on in his first term as president, Donald Trump has said repeatedly that he is going to bring manufacturing and coal mining jobs — as well as the use of coal — back in America. Cramer wondered if current and potential Environmental Protection Agency regulations might be relaxed or repealed, which could benefit AEP.

“That may be a little bit optimistic,” Akins said. “I think when you really look at what’s going on, there’s a transformation occurring in our industry and it’s moving toward a cleaner-energy environment. When President Trump talks about clean coal, there really needs to be a focus on the ability to remove carbon as much as possible from coal (burning) itself. Also, with natural gas becoming prevalent, that balanced energy portfolio should be a true benefit — not only in mitigation of costs to our consumers — but also to reinforce the ability of coal to remain a part of the portfolio. That’s the key point because I think most coal units today are fully controlled from a sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxide and mercury standpoint, so, obviously, the more emphasis placed on removing carbon from coal (burning) will help make it one of those resources of the future.”

AEP Teacher Vision Grants Enhance Student Learning

A Spanishburg pre-schooler dressed as Albert Einstein greeted visitors to the students’ science fair. The school received a $250 Teacher Vision Grant from American Electric Power.

(Story by Barry Schumann)

Young children are natural scientists, full of curiosity, ideas and questions.  So it’s no surprise that a pair of pre-school instructors at Spanishburg Elementary School in West Virginia engaged their young charges in a science fair with support from a $250 Teacher Vision Grant from American Electric Power.

“Science is a way of life. Science is a perspective. Science is the process that takes us from confusion to understanding in a manner that’s precise, predictive and reliable,” said instructor Evonne Davidson. “Thank you for sending us the grant money to assist with our science fair.”

The pre-school students put their science brains to work demonstrating why soap bubbles are round, how force and motion are related, mixing and measuring, creating simple machines, engineering a “marble run” to explore motion and kinetic energy, and even experiencing static electricity. “This helped instill a love of learning and curiosity in the children for sience, math and technology,” Davidson said.

The AEP Teacher Vision Grant program was created in 2003 to help remove funding barriers to innovative learning by offering grants of between $100 and $500 to educators from pre-kindergarten through grade 12 who live or teach in the AEP service area or in communities with major AEP facilities.

Last year, AEP awarded 210 grants totaling $70,000 to teachers and schools in 10 of 11 states served. A sampling of topics covered through the grants includes:

  • A  Technical Revolutions Lab to help Hawkins Middle School sixth-grade students explore hands-on learning that leads to functional machines in Hawkins, Texas.
  • An Engineering Design in Science program to enable Hellstern Middle School sixth-grade students to investigate engineering design with help from the University of Arkansas Engineering Department in Springdale, Arkansas.
  • A STEM program at IDEA San Benito K-5 School featuring Engineering is Elementary kits for 700 elementary students in San Benito, Texas.
  • Addition of six fuel cell kits for Louisville High School chemistry classes for students to investigate renewable energy  in Louisville, Ohio.
  • Acquisition of a 3-D printer to provide coding experience for Pikeville High School students in Pikeville, Kentucky.
  • Support including materials for Science Olympiad team members at River Valley Middle School in Three Oaks, Michigan.
  • Addition of STEM kits for kindergarten students at Rockport Elementary School in Rockport, Indiana.
  • Creation of four Individualized Learning Labs to provide remediation for at-risk students at Westwood Elementary School in Shreveport, Louisiana.
  • Math manipulatives to help 250 Finley-Reese Elementary School fifth- and sixth-grade students develop number sense and operations abilities in Wright City, Oklahoma.

 

“Education of students is critical to the future prosperity of the communities we serve,” said Barry Schumann, principal community relations consultant. “These mini-grants let innovative teachers do more in and out of the classroom to ensure their students achieve academically.”

Projects that have an academic focus and a goal of improving student achievement are eligible for consideration. AEP has a special interest in supporting science, mathematics, technology, electrical safety and the balanced study of energy and the environment. Priority may be given to teachers who have attended AEP Workshops for Educators, National Energy Education Development (NEED) Project training, E-LAB or are affiliated with an AEP school-business partnership.

The next deadline for AEP Teacher Vision Grants is Feb. 24. Program information and an online application are available at www.aep.com/go/teachergrants.

AEP employees may share this opportunity with pre-K through grade 12 educators they know.

AEP Announces Participation in Army PaYS Program

Nick Akins signs a participation agreement for AEP in the Army PaYS program while looking on are (left to right): Ohio Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor, Lt. Col. Clydellia Prichard-Allen, and U.S. Rep. Joyce Beatty.

Photo by: Caitlin Sadler

Nick Akins, AEP chairman, president and chief executive officer, put his signature on an agreement to participate in the U.S. Army Partnership for Youth Success (PaYS), in a ceremony held January 18 at AEP Headquarters. The program is designed to accelerate the transition of veterans to careers in the private sector.

Through the program, active and reserve servicemen and women in the Army and Army Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) are identified by their skills and matched with civilian job opportunities that require those skills. Soldiers who qualify with a skills match are guaranteed an interview for the job by participating companies.

AEP revealed its plans during the signing ceremony that was also attended by AEP employees, Ohio Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor, U.S. Rep. Steve Stivers, U.S. Rep. Joyce Beatty and U.S. Army Lt. Col. Clydellia S. Prichard-Allen.

“AEP has a long history of being involved with the military. We are proud to honor the sacrifices veterans make to serve our country, and one of the best ways we do that is by helping them transition to a rewarding career with us,” said Akins. “Veterans are skilled, team-oriented, motivated and safety-conscious — traits that help AEP become what we aspire to be: the country’s premier regulated energy company.”

Since Army PaYS began in 2000, more than 500 employers have partnered with the program; AEP is the 602nd employer to join. During the enlistment process, soldiers begin establishing a relationship with companies for which they are interested in working. Those who qualify will then be granted an interview at the company of their choice upon leaving military service. This program does not guarantee employment, but it does help new veterans clear the often-daunting first hurdle to starting a career: getting a foot in the door.

Veterans come to AEP because, as employees, they continue to serve our national security interests by delivering safe, reliable electricity to fuel our homes and power our economy, Akins said. “No question, there is a natural flow from a military career to a career in distribution or transmission  . . . we are very proud to be involved in helping servicemen and women make that transition and find a place at AEP.” Approximately 11 percent of AEP’s workforce is composed of military veterans.

Stivers, who serves in the Ohio Army National Guard, including active-duty deployment for Operation Iraqi Freedom, commended AEP for its actions. “This commitment by AEP is a great business decision,” he said. “Military veterans return to civilian life skilled, smart, and they understand what teamwork means.”

Beatty, who presented a Congressional resolution to Akins commending AEP on the new partnership, said, “We all have a duty to serve. We all stand on someone else’s shoulders. This is a great partnership that proves that by working together, we can help prepare our youth for success in the future.”

Taylor noted that there are 900,000 military veterans and active-duty servicemen and women in Ohio, the sixth largest such contingent in the U.S. She said while attending a recent deployment ceremony for an Ohio National Guard unit leaving for an overseas peacekeeping mission, she observed two things. “First, I saw from their faces how very young these men and women are — some are only 19 years old,” she said. “But what I also saw in their faces was their determination and commitment to serve our country and represent us well. Returning veterans have these attributes, along with the skills and training they need to be successful in their post-military careers.”

Lt. Col. Prichard-Allen, the Army’s recruiting commander for the central Ohio area, noted that the PaYS program also provides a valuable database of prospective job candidates for businesses’ talent pools.

AEP has received national recognition for its veteran employment practices with 14 years of being designated a Top Military-Friendly Employer by G.I. Jobs magazine, most recently in November 2016. AEP provides paid leave for employees in the Reserves or National Guard who are ordered to active duty in emergency situations. AEP was one of six energy companies to develop the Troops to Energy Jobs initiative to provide veterans with a career roadmap for jobs in the energy industry. The company also is a member of the Veteran Jobs Mission, a coalition of more than 230 companies committed to hiring military veterans.

To support the 1,873 military veterans who already work at AEP, the company sponsors the Military Veteran Employee Resource Group (MVERG), with members in Arkansas, Louisiana, Ohio, Oklahoma and Texas. MVERG’s mission is to promote the roles and contributions of veterans and active-duty military employees, provide professional development and networking opportunities for our members and serve as a liaison between AEP and the veteran and military communities.