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AEP Helps Provide New Prospects for Power in Puerto Rico

Some of the members of AEP’s Incident Management Team in Puerto Rico. From left to right: Todd Hopwood, April Bailey, Mike Free, Carl Sweigart, Tony Rash, Bubba Griffith and Bryan Blanton.

(Story by Bailey Cultice)

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — A second wave of AEP Incident Management Team (IMT) employees has landed in Puerto Rico. They arrived during the first week of January and will be joined by almost 70 frontline employees from all of the operating companies in the coming days. The AEP team includes line mechanics, fleet mechanics, safety and health professionals, engineers and dispatchers. In addition to personnel, almost 50 vehicles and other pieces of power restoration equipment are being shipped to the island.

The groups will spend the next 30 days working in the region surrounding the city of Caguas, a municipality about 20 miles south of San Juan. AEP’s territory is detailed on this map.

“Hurricane Maria left a path of devastation across Puerto Rico and nowhere is that more evident than the power system,” said Nick Akins, chairman, president and chief executive officer. “I’m very proud of our crews who are taking time away from their loved ones to help get the power back on. This is a humanitarian mission as much as it is a power restoration mission.”

According to the National Weather Service, Maria had maximum sustained winds of 155 miles per hour, making it a Category 4 hurricane. The storm knocked out power to the entire island, which has 3.4 million residents.

Power has been restored to about 59 percent of the customers in Puerto Rico, according to Tony Rash, safety manager, Southwestern Electric Power Company (SWEPCO). Rash was one of 10 employees who arrived in Puerto Rico December 10 as part of AEP’s IMT, and returned January 8.

“Even though more customers are back online, many residents are still without power,” said Rash. “The larger cities have a lot of power so stores like Walmart and Lowes are open. The situation changes when you leave the city center. There’s very little power in the rural areas where people live.”

The AEP IMT is leading efforts in the Caguas region, which includes the city of Caguas and three additional regions in the mountainous interior of the island. A major focus of the IMT’s efforts has been building relationships with the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA), the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and other utilities working in the Caguas region.

“I want to send a sincere appreciation to the first IMT that went to Puerto Rico,” said Phil Lewis, emergency restoration planning manager. “The IMT members have been vital in establishing relationships that will allow our crews to be successful.”

Lewis has been working with Tim Galecki, supply chain and fleet operations manager, to coordinate AEP’s response to Hurricane Maria and working through the logistics involved with getting personnel, equipment and supplies to Puerto Rico.

He notes that AEP’s employees are extremely well suited for the Caguas region because of their varied experience working in rugged terrain and severe storm restoration. While on the island, crews will focus on restoring commercial customers so people can get back to work.


AEP River Transportation Division

Thomas Craig, 78, retired, River Transportation Division, died November 2.

Mark Garrick, 51, AEP River Transportation Division-Paducah, died November 26.

Robert Grueneberg, 64, AEP River Transportation Division-Cape, died October 25.

AEP Service Corporation

Zenon Andracki, 85, retired, AEP Headquarters, died December 4.

John “Jack” Katlic, 89, retired, Lancaster Office Building, died December 16.

Paul McCloskey, 61, AEP Headquarters, died November 4.

Mary Soltesz, 76, AEP Headquarters, died December 8.

Radzimir Urbanski, 87, retired, AEP Headquarters, died October 4.

Louisa Zollo, 84, retired, AEP Headquarters, died December 12.

Appalachian Power Company

Jack Bailey, 87, retired, John Amos Plant, died December 3.

Clifford Bannister Jr., 87, retired, Glasgow Service Center, died November 7.

Henry Farmer Jr., 88, retired, Grundy Service Center, died October 20.

Robert Guy, 77, retired, Glen Lyn Plant, died October 30.

Corintha Hawkins, 86, retired, St. Albans Service Center, died October 29.

Fairly Honaker, 71, retired, Bb&T Building, died December 8.

Stoney Jackson, 89, retired, Abingdon Service Center, died October 23.

Charles Jones, 76, retired, Abingdon Transmission Building, died October 8.

Clifford Mann, 100, retired, Beckley Service Center, died November 26.

Barbara Marshall, 81, retired, Pulaski Service Center, died December 5.

Hanley Mayes, 83, retired, Bb&T Building, died October 21.

David Moore, 69, Point Pleasant Service Center, died November 28.

William Ohlinger, 88, retired, Sporn Plant, died December 8.

Grady Parker, 87, retired, Lynchburg Office, died November 29.

Arlin Parsons, 80, retired, Wytheville Service Center, died November 8.

Thomas Purves, 70, John W. Vaughan Center, died November 26.

Sherwood Robertson Jr., 73, retired, John W. Vaughan Center, died November 27.

Clayton Starcher Jr., 86, retired, North Charleston Service Center, died December 8.

Larry Stiltner, 73, Grundy Service Center, died November 12.

Leonard Summers, 58, Clinch River Plant, died November 29.

Columbus Southern Power Company

Douglas Byrd, 66, Columbus Southeast Service Center, died December 2.

John Crego, 88, retired, 850 Tech Center, died November 28.

John Edmonson, 79, retired, Conesville Plant, died November 20.

Gerald Hart, 74, Minerva Annex, died October 30.

Jerry McManis, 79, retired, Athens Service Center, died December 21.

Lloyd Solt, 89, retired, 850 Tech Center, died November 26.

Mary Strawser, 82, retired, Chillicothe Office, died November 2.

Marion Stodola, 84, retired, 850 Tech Center died December 5.

Indiana Michigan Power Company

Gary Allen, 72, retired, Baer Field Service Center, died November 21.

Martha Blakley, 82, retired, One Summit Square, died October 27.

John Christoff, 72, Baer Field Service Center, died October 10.

Lehman Combs, 91, retired, Tanners Creek Plant, died December 12.

Ardella Crespo, 77, retired, Tanners Creek Plant, died December 7.

Jack Gilland, 83, retired, Marion Service Center, died November 9.

William Hulwick, 88, retired, Avilla Service Center, died November 15.

Joseph Longardner, 94, retired, Spy Run Service Center, died December 23.

Paul Mercer, 76, Rockport Plant, died November 2.

Charlotte Noe, 79, retired, Buchanan Service Center, died November 6.

Jerry Palmer, 75, retired, One Summit Squarer, died December 9.

Maurice Vanbruaene, 93, retired, South Bend Service Center, died December 1.

Kentucky Power Company

Jacob Cline Jr., 96, retired, Pikeville Service Center, died October 25.

John Combs, 76, retired, Hazard Office, died December 25.

Ohio Power Company

Barbara Addy, 91, retired, Zanesville Office, died November 1.

David Atkins, 89, retired, Canton Eastern Regional Office, died December 8.

William Bonar, 82, retired, Kammer Plant, died November 22.

Howard Cox, 94, retired, Muskingum River Plant, died November 29.

Russell Feist, 92, retired, Kammer Plant, died November 26.

James Habel, 73, retired, Muskingum River Plant, died December 26.

Franklin Hudson, 84, retired, Canton Eastern Regional Office, died November 23.

Billy Jones, 81, retired, Lancaster Office Building, died November 8.

Norman Kelley, 74, retired, Kammer Plant, died November 18.

Larry McCoy, 80, retired, Muskingum River Plant, died November 13.

Kenneth McKitrick, 82, retired, Lancaster Office Building, died November 22.

Kenneth Paul, 72, Zanesville Service Center, died November 4.

Robert Roesch, 82, retired, Lancaster Office Building, died December 1.

Donald Savage, 85, retired, Zanesville Office, died December 15.

William Schaffer, 91, retired, Portsmouth Service Center, died December 5.

Robert Varian, 61, Gavin Plant, died November 12.

Public Service Company of Oklahoma

Wanda Barham, 81, retired, Tulsa General Office, died December 5.

Bernard Hardesty, 81, retired Tulsa General Office, died October 25.

Gwendolyn Harris, 95, retired, Tulsa General Office, died November 29.

Charles Howard, 86, retired, Tulsa General Office, died November 15.

Jack Japp, 86, retired, Tulsa General Office, died November 14.

Larry Keys, 69, Energy Control Center, died December 11.

Todd Thompson, 65, Tulsa General Office, died November 25.

Hurley Young, 92, retired, Tulsa General Office, died September 18.

Southwestern Electric Power Company

Elmer Banks, 80, Shreveport General Office, died November 16.

Eugene Gossett, 92, retired, Shreveport General Office, died October 20.

Jimmy Gossett, 69, Greenwood Service Center, died December 6.

Mary Hairston, 78, retired, Shreveport General Office, died November 22.

Lawrence Mosley, 58, Dolet Hills Lignite Company, died November 15.

Francis Myers, 76, Arsenal Hill Plant, died November 21.

Richard O’Connor, 92, retired, Shreveport General Office, died November 9.

Wilma Smith, 91, retired, Shreveport General Office, died December 1.

Texas Central

Alejandro Aguilar, 46, Laredo Service Center, died December 22.

Avis Dorough, 92, retired, Corpus Christi Office, died December 20.

Charlean O’Connell, 92, retired, Corpus Christi Office, died June 3.

Sammy Pons, 87, retired, Corpus Christi Office, died December 2.

Chester Ridge, 85, retired, Corpus Christi Office, died December 20.

Guadalupe Rojas, 61, Corpus Christi Office, died June 3.

Warren Stansbury, 84, retired, Corpus Christi Office, died October 23.

Reba Swanner, 85, retired, Corpus Christi Office, died November 23.

Texas North

Dorothy Bohannon, 96, retired, Abilene General Office, died December 28.

Jess Garcia, 81, retired, Abilene General Office, died November 21.

James Johnston, 64, Abilene General Office, died December 19.

F.D. Raymond, 77, retired, Abilene General Office, died December 28.



AEP Ohio

Jon Buck, Chillicothe Service Center, retired December 16 after 31 years of service.

Milton Page, Marietta Service Center, retired December 16 after 38 years of service.

Mark Westfall, Pomeroy Service Building, retired December 16 after 39 years of service.

AEP Service Corporation

Harold Alexander, AEP Headquarters, retired December 30 after 42 years of service.

Rick Dellinger, AEP Headquarters, retired November 29 after 27 years of service.

Amy James, AEP Headquarters, retired November 1 after 17 years of service.

Jeffery LaFleur, AEP Headquarters, retired December 2 after 35 years of service.

Louis Hosek, Renaissance Tower, retired December 30 after 36 years of service.

Melinda McCandlish, AEP Headquarters, retired December 1 after 38 years of service.

Carol Meadows, Hurricane Call Center, retired November 1 after 11 years of service.

Marcella Pheister, AEP Headquarters, retired November 29 after 20 years of service.

Michael Price, AEP Headquarters, retired November 2 after 39 years of service.

Randy Severn, AEP Headquarters, retired December 30 after 29 years of service.

Scott Weaver, AEP Headquarters, retired December 30 after 37 years of service.

Pamala York, Renaissance Tower, retired December 30 after 23 years of service.

AEP Texas

Terrel David, Lon Hill Service Center, retired November 27 after 41 years of service.

Patrick Dunn, Victoria Service Center, retired December 30 after 36 years of service.

Thomas Pearson, Victoria Service Center, retired December 30 after 31 years of service.

Appalachian Power Company

Robert Johnson, North Charleston Service Center, retired November 14 after 33 years of service.

Charles Maurer, APCO Headquarters, retired November 28 after 38 years of service.

Randy McCoy, Clintwood Service Center, retired November 1 after 43 years of service.


James Brinkman, Clinch River Plant, retired November 1 after 11 years of service.

Larry Burghdoff, Cook Nuclear Plant, retired December 16 after 24 years of service.

Donald Campbell, Rockport Plant, retired November 20 after 33 years of service.

Guy Caple, Cook Nuclear Plant, retired November 1 after 37 years of service.

John Edwards, Dolet Hills Lignite Company, retired December 22 after 32 years of service.

Vera Jackson, Cook Nuclear Plant, retired November 18 after 32 years of service.

Thomas Morris, Northeastern Station 3&4, retired December 22 after 36 years of service.

David Pugh, Cook Coal Terminal, retired November 1 after 32 years of service.

Eric Willard, Rockport Plant, retired November 1 after 35 years of service.

Indiana Michigan Power Company

James Allriedge, South Bend Service Center, retired December 15 after 33 years of service.

Kentucky Power Company

Judith Couch, Hazard Service Center, retired December 1 after 10 years of service.

Bruce Lindon, Hazard Service Center, retired December 1 after 43 years of service.

Paul Pratt, Hazard Service Center, retired December 1 after 39 years of service.

Judy Rosquist, Kentucky State Office, retired December 27 after 16 years of service.

Donald Washington, Pikeville Service Center, retired December 30 after 38 years of service.

Public Service Company of Oklahoma

Dawn Casey, Tulsa General Office, retired December 29 after 14 years of service.

Southwestern Electric Power Company

Carey Brown, Henderson Office, retired November 11 after 39 years of service.

Scott McCloud, Shreveport General Office, retired December 9 after 37 years of service.

David Rowe, Texarkana Operations, retired December 9 after 39 years of service.


Forrest Heverly, Canton South Service Center, retired December 30 after 44 years of service.

Ronald Jones, Victoria Service Center, retired November 10 after 36 years of service.

Gary Leishman, AEP Transmission Headquarters-New Albany, retired December 30 after 40 years of service.

Lawrence Secheverell, Spy Run Service Center, retired November 1 after 44 years of service.

Canton’s Andre Hooks Wins Chairman’s Life Saving Award

Andre Hooks helped rescue a man from a burning vehicle.

(Scott Fuller)

It was supposed to be a relaxing morning fishing for AEP Ohio line mechanic Andre Hooks. Instead, he starred in a harrowing scene that would earn him the Chairman’s Life Saving Award.

When Hooks left his house the morning of Sunday, October 8, a fast-moving tan-colored Hummer sped by him on the road. The vehicle was driving erratically and appeared to be tailgating another car ahead of it. The Hummer swerved repeatedly into oncoming traffic – “he may be drunk or on something,” Hooks guessed – and the dangerous driving continued one too many times. The driver swerved again, this time colliding headfirst into a car driving the opposite way.

Hooks hopped out and rushed to the scene of accident. Peering inside the car that had been struck, all he could see were deployed airbags. So he banged on the window to get the driver’s attention. At that point Hooks noticed that the engine was on fire … and the flames were getting bigger.

Moving quickly and with the help of a nearby Good Samaritan, Hooks took off the man’s seat belt and removed him from the car. The injured man had a broken leg and his ankle was gushing blood, but they carried him to safety. “His screaming from the pain as we carried him away is something I never want to hear again,” Hooks said.

Right about the time when Hooks should have been casting his first fishing line into the water, he found himself driving to the police station to fill out an incident report.

At Hooks’ Canton Northeast garage, employees rotate the responsibility of leading the safety huddle every Monday. Monday, October 9, was Hooks’ scheduled day; he interrupted a video on distracted driving and cell phone use halfway through to share with his co-workers what had happened the day before. They listened intently to his riveting story. It was a story that would be shared many times more, earning him the Chairman’s Life Saving Award and a handshake from AEP Utilities Executive Vice President Paul Chodak, congratulating him on his bravery and a job well done.

“Andre is a very humble person. I think his humility makes this heroic effort and the award even more rewarding,” said Rob Cregge, manager – Distribution System for Canton. “I’m truly proud to be part of Andre’s team.”

During the critical minutes of the accident, Hooks thought about his daughters. He thought about their friends. And, most importantly, he also remembered his training.

“Looking back, I believe my training from AEP through Safe Drivers Academy caused me to slow down, recognize the hazards and pull off the roadway to avoid any more danger,” Hooks said. “It has become instinct to follow safe driving standards, even on personal time.

“I believe I did what anyone in my position would have done – help in any way possible.”



2018 Medicare Advantage plans began Jan. 1, 2018

AEP retirees who are age 65 and older and their dependents are reminded that the Medicare Advantage plans began Jan. 1, 2018. Participants will receive a new ID card in the mail.

2018 Medicare Advantage ID cards began mailing the third week in December. Each member will receive their own card with unique ID number. Plan acceptance letters with member IDs were mailed the second week in December and can be used as proof of insurance until the new ID card arrives.

In addition, members can use Aetna Navigator to print a copy of their ID card. They can also download the Aetna mobile app to their smart phone to obtain an ID card image.

To use Aetna Navigator, go to and select “Log In/Register.”

For questions, you may call Aetna at 1-855-527-2452.

I&M, PSO Named as ‘Customer Champions’

I&M ranked second among electric-only companies in the Midwest.  PSO ranked second in the South.

(Story by Schnee Garrett)

Indiana Michigan Power and Public Service Company of Oklahoma are two of just six electric-only utilities in the Midwest named as 2017 Residential Customer Champions in a Cogent Reports study by Market Strategies International.

Cogent Reports surveyed almost 60,000 customers from the 130 largest U.S. utility companies. The Customer Champion distinction was given to 17 electric-only utilities plus 32 other natural gas and electric companies. “These Customer Champions rate higher than industry peers on being well managed companies,” Market Strategies International said in a news release.

“This ranking shows our continued emphasis on serving our customers,” said Dave Lucas, Vice President of Finance and Customer Experience for I&M. “Congratulations to our employees for meeting a high standard for customer service.”

I&M ranked second among electric-only companies in the Midwest.  PSO ranked second in the South.

“It’s clear from our findings that Customer Champion utilities have stronger brands to influence customer behavior, gain acceptance for rate increases, lower operating costs and enhance revenue opportunities, said Chris Oberle, a senior vice president at Market Strategies International. “The bottom line is Customer Champions are superior at profitably managing their customer operations and marketing efforts.”

Kentucky Power Again Plays Role in Bringing Jobs to the Region

Kentucky Power President and COO Matt Satterwhite, right, talks about AEP and Kentucky Power’s role in bringing EnerBlu to eastern Kentucky as EnerBlu’s leadership looks on. The company plans to build a manufacturing facility in Pikeville. Photo submitted by Dusty Layne.

(Story by Allison Barker)

PIKEVILLE, Ky. – Kentucky Power Dec. 15 joined state and local leaders as EnerBlu announced its plans to invest $412 million in central and eastern Kentucky.

EnerBlu, an energy innovation company, plans to employ 875 with an average annual salary of $81,000 at a manufacturing facility to be built at the Kentucky Enterprise Industrial Park in Pikeville. Another 110 will work at the company’s new Lexington headquarters. The manufacturing facility will make lithium-titanate oxide (LTO) batteries, called EnerBlu Advanced Energy Storage Units. The batteries will power transit buses, commercial trucks, military vehicles and other equipment. The project, to be completed in 2020, is the result of a partnership that included Kentucky Power, Gov. Matt Bevin, Congressman Hal Rogers, One East Kentucky, the City of Pikeville, and other state and local leaders.

“Building a new energy company that can benefit both the local and global community is not only exciting, but very meaningful to us,” said EnerBlu Executive Chairman Michael Weber. “Kentucky Power has been at the forefront of the revitalization of eastern Kentucky by helping to attract companies that can put coal miners back to work through retraining and durable jobs. We look forward to working with them as we build our facility in Pikeville.”

EnerBlu is the sixth manufacturer to announce in 2017 that it is building facilities in eastern Kentucky with support and help from Kentucky Power. Kentucky Power visited EnerBlu’s facilities in Riverside, California, earlier this year to explore partnerships and help recruit the company to the region. Kentucky Power also provided $120,000 through a partnership of customers and stockholders to help fund geotechnical surveying and testing at the park and spearheaded efforts to develop the former mine site into an industrial park instead of a subdivision and golf course.

Kentucky Power also was instrumental in forging partnerships with and among several groups in bringing in business to the region. Projects announced in 2017 include:

  • Braidy Industries, aluminum rolling mill, 550  jobs (plus 1,000 construction jobs), Ashland;
  • Silver Liner, a tanker truck manufacturer, 300 jobs, Pikeville;
  • AppHarvest, an agricultural grow operation, 140 jobs, Pikeville;
  • Wright-Mix Materials, liquid chemicals, grouts, cement products, 130 jobs, Greenup County;
  • Thoroughbred Aviation, aircraft maintenance, avionics, painting, 15 jobs, Martin County.


“Economic development is not just important, it is vital to eastern Kentucky,” said Matt Satterwhite, president and chief operating officer of Kentucky Power. “Today’s announcement demonstrates why Kentucky Power is investing in economic development and promoting the resources we have in eastern Kentucky. Our partnership with EnerBlu and other employers who are bringing jobs to our communities is the result of working together to grow the entire region.”

In the last five years, Kentucky Power has invested nearly $4 million in economic development in eastern Kentucky, including water and sewer projects; broadband expansion; industrial site development and certification; workforce research; and other endeavors.

A partnership of Kentucky Power customers and shareholders funds many of the projects. Customers contribute 15 cents each month to the Kentucky Power Economic Growth Grant (K-PEGG) program. All customer contributions are then matched by stockholders to generate about $600,000 a year for the region.

“We appreciate the support that we have received from the entire state of Kentucky and the team at Kentucky Power,” said Daniel Elliott, EnerBlu president and CEO. “By working with local companies, including the utilities in Kentucky, EnerBlu will continue to develop its power products to meet the needs of commercial and military customers in Kentucky and around the world.”

Former AEP Senior Vice President Jack Katlic Passes Away

Jack Katlic

John E. “Jack” Katlic, 89, passed away December 16.

Katlic was a senior vice president of AEP from 1984 until his retirement in 1993. In his position, he was responsible for the general management of the coal mining, preparation and transportation subsidiaries of the AEP System’s operating utilities, as well as overall fuel procurement activities. Prior to joining AEP, he was executive vice president-engineering and government relations for Island Creek Coal Company, a subsidiary of Occidental Petroleum Corp.

Katlic was a graduate of West Virginia University where he received BS and MS degrees in mining engineering. He began his career in 1948 with Rochester and Pittsburgh Coal Company. A leader in the coal industry, he is a past chairman of the National Coal Association and was appointed to the national Inland Waterways Users Board, which advises the Secretary of the Army and Congress on inland waterways priorities and funding. He also was a member of the negotiating team for the 1978 wage agreement negotiations between the Bituminous Coal Operators and the United Mine Workers of America.

Katlic authored “Miner Jack and His Unforgettable People in the Coal Fields,” in 2006 and copyrighted the short story, “Heaven is a Room Full of Dogs,” and gained membership to a number of professional organizations. Some of these include the American Institute of Mining, the Society of Mining Engineers, the National Mine Rescue Association, and the National Mining Association. He was named “Man of the Year” by Coal Age Magazine in 1987, won the Erskine Ramsay Medal from the American Institute of Mining and the Kingery Safety Award from the Pennsylvania Coal Mining Institute of America, both in 1995, and was inducted into the West Virginia Coal Hall of Fame in 2000. Katlic also was selected for inclusion in numerous volumes of Who’s Who in America, Who’s Who in the Midwest, Who’s Who in the World, and Who’s Who in Finance and Business.

Katlic was a leader in his Lancaster, Ohio, community as well, serving as chair of the Fairfield Medical Center Board and the Lancaster Chamber of Commerce, and was a founding director of the Fairfield Foundation. He is survived by his wife, Nancy Nicely Katlic, with whom he celebrated 67 years of marriage in August; as well as a brother, David Katlic; and a half-brother, Sydney Deringer. He also is survived by his five children, Mark (Diane) Katlic of Glyndon, MD, Kerry (Anne) Katlic of Penfield, NY, Kevin Katlic of Lexington, KY, Kathy (Chip) Cooper of Worthington, OH, and Nancy (Matt) Gilbert of Hilliard, OH.

A family service will be held in Ligonier, Pennsylvania, at the Ligonier Valley Cemetery Chapel, followed by burial at the Ligonier Valley Cemetery.

AEP Sends Employees to Help Restore Power in Puerto Rico

SWEPCO employees before flying to Caguas, Puerto Rico. From left to right: Todd Hopwood, Bubba Griffin, April Bailey, Tony Rash, Mike Free, James H. Lyles, Martin Hegert, Leslie Hedgepath. Not pictured: Bryan Blanton and Carl Sweigart.

(Story by Shanelle Hinkle Moore)

On Sunday, December 10, 11 AEP employees flew to Caguas, Puerto Rico, to help manage power restoration. Nearly 30 percent of homes in Puerto Rico are still without electric power. Hurricane Maria heavily hit Caguas, a remote and mountainous area.

The AEP employees are one of seven Incident Management Teams from U.S. energy companies traveling to the island.

Phil Lewis, AEP’s Emergency Restoration Planning manager, is coordinating the company’s incident command assistance. “AEP is glad to provide the expertise of our people for this important work,” he said. “I think this is the first time that AEP has sent employees to assist in restoration in the Caribbean region.”

Bryan Blanton, distribution system manager in Longview, Texas, will lead a team of storm response experts from SWEPCO. They will manage nearly 3,000 workers already on the island. The team will work 12 to 16 hours a day, seven days a week until early January.

“We’re honored to have the opportunity to help bring power back to the people of Puerto Rico. The conditions in Puerto Rico are dire, and they need power restored as quickly as possible. We have the expertise to do that, and we are happy to be able to help,” Blanton said.

Jon Cronin, transmission line manager in Columbus, Ohio, will help coordinate transmission line restoration. “I hope that the grid can be rebuilt in a more robust manner that can better withstand the weather-related threats which occur in that region,” Cronin said. He is brushing up on his high school Spanish-speaking skills with Rosetta Stone lessons. During his time there, he also plans to journal his experiences.

“Rebuilding the power grid in Puerto Rico will be challenging,” said Malcolm Smoak, SWEPCO vice president, Distribution. “We are pleased to provide the expertise of our employees to restore power as quickly and safely as possible for our fellow Americans in Puerto Rico.”

AEP is one of several energy companies providing resources and workers the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority in partnership with Edison Electric Institute. AEP is also sending 3,000 insulators to support Puerto Rico’s power restoration efforts.

The company plans to send another team to relieve these employees in early January.

Here is the AEP Puerto Rico Restoration Team: Jon Cronin, transmission line manager, Columbus, Ohio; Bryan Blanton, manager distribution system, Longview, TX; April Bailey, sustainability lead, Shreveport, LA; Mike Free, distribution dispatching coordinator, Shreveport, LA; Leslie Hedgepeth, distribution system supervisor, Shreveport, LA; Martin Hergert, distribution system supervisor, Marshall, TX; Todd Hopwood, manager distribution system, Fayetteville, AR; James H. Lyles, distribution system supervisor, Shreveport, LA; Tony Rash, safety and health manager, Shreveport, LA; Carl Sweigart, sustainability lead, Fayetteville, AR; and Bubba Griffin, distribution dispatching supervisor, Shreveport, LA.

AEP Foundation Awards $1.58 Million Grant to BridgeValley for STEM Education Program

Appalachian Power President and COO Chris Beam (right) and External Affairs Vice President Mark Dempsey (left) presented a symbolic check to Nitro and Riverside High School students and BridgeValley’s president as part of a media announcement in Charleston.

(Story by Jeri Matheney)

Students at two West Virginia high schools and BridgeValley Community & Technical College have learned new doors are open to them that they may never have considered. Thanks to a $1.58 million grant from the American Electric Power Foundation, thousands of high school students in Kanawha County will be able to explore careers in STEM – science, technology, engineering and math – and earn college credits while still in high school.

Through the grant, BridgeValley will work with Nitro High School and Riverside High School, as well as their feeder middle schools, to implement the Credits CountSM program. Credits Count is the signature program of the AEP Foundation. With it, high school and middle school students are introduced to STEM career fields. The program also helps students close learning gaps so they are ready to study college-level courses while still in high school. The 5-year program is expected to reach approximately 2,200 students.

By high school graduation, students will have earned credits that count toward a certificate in a STEM-related career or a college degree in fields that include advanced manufacturing and computer and information technology. These students who graduate from BridgeValley may enter careers such as IT Systems Analyst, earning annual salaries of $75,000-$80,000, or Electro-Mechanical Technician, earning salaries of $45,000-$50,000. Students may also continue their education and save thousands of dollars over a traditional path to a four-year degree.

“The Credits Count grant is the largest gift that the AEP Foundation has ever made in West Virginia,” said [Chris Beam], Appalachian Power president and chief operating officer. “This gift will help students become the problem solvers for our society and our businesses in the future.”

The two participating high schools, Nitro and Riverside, were selected because their students will particularly benefit from Credits Count programming. Both currently lack access to quality STEM-based programming.

Earning some college credit before graduating high school increases the chance that students will complete a college program by two and a half times, according to the Council for Adult and Experiential Learning.

Chris Beam and Dr. Eunice Bellinger, BridgeValley president, at the December 4 press conference.

The major components of the Credits Count program include:

  • STEM Experiences — expanding awareness at an early age of possible STEM careers through middle and high school exploration experiences;
  • College Course Readiness Assessments — identifying gaps in writing, reading and math that may require tutoring;
  • Summer Bridge Programs — providing developmental support in English and math and improving skills prior to students’ participation in dual enrollment programs;
  • Dual Enrollment College Classes — allowing students to graduate high school with at least 12 college credits toward an associate degree and a skill set certificate;
  • Active Advising — providing a program adviser to work with students to continuously monitor and address educational barriers, college readiness and student performance; and
  • Scholarships — providing some scholarships for participating students to attend BridgeValley after high school graduation.


BridgeValley’s program is the AEP Foundation’s seventh Credits Count program. Others include Columbus State Community College in Ohio, Bossier Parish Community College in Louisiana, Tulsa Community College in Oklahoma, Ivy Tech Community College in Indiana, Ashland Community and Technical College in Kentucky, and Laredo Community College in Texas. With this grant, the AEP Foundation has committed nearly $14.2 million across the AEP service territory to help students pursue careers in STEM.

BridgeValley Community and Technical College serves a six-county region including Fayette, Raleigh, Nicholas, Clay, Putnam and Kanawha counties. The college operates two campuses, in Montgomery and South Charleston, along with the Advanced Technology Center of Southern West Virginia.