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Employees Restore Power and Christmas Joy to Young Flood Victim

Pictured are the Appalachian Power employees who doubled as “Santa’s Helpers” to make a little boy’s Christmas wish come true. Kneeling are Jeremy Barr (left) and AJ Shaffer. Standing left to right are Terry Whittington, Andy Jackson, Rob Morrison and Eric Holtzapfel.

(Story by Teresa Hall)

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — With a little help from Appalachian Power, Santa recently made a young boy’s Christmas wish come true. After the family lost their West Virginia home to historic flooding in June, the child wrote to Old Saint Nick and plans were soon under way to grant the child’s wish in time for the holidays.

The little boy and his family lost their Clendenin home in June when heavy rain and severe flooding swept through the West Virginia community. The family eventually relocated to a new home, but starting over wasn’t easy.

On a recent fall day, the child’s teacher asked the boy and his classmates to write a letter to Santa so he knew what they wanted for Christmas. The little boy’s list included a remote-controlled car, a bed spread or comforter for his bed, and a white or snowy Christmas, but it was another item that tugged at the hearts of those who read it. The child’s first wish was to have electricity in his new home.

Appalachian Power employees who heard about the family quickly got to work hoping to make the child’s wish come true in time for Christmas. Lassey Munsey, Greta Boggess and Rick Cobb worked as a team to secure the equipment and resources needed for the 1,250-foot, six pole primary extension.

The line crew that completed the project — affectionately known as Santa’s Helpers — included APCo employees Andy Jackson, Rob Morrison, AJ Shaffer, Jeremy Barr, Terry Whittington and Eric Holtzapfel.

This Christmas story was shared with APCo Now by Teresa Tudor, distribution line coordinator in Huntington. For Tudor, the story is evidence Appalachian Power genuinely cares about the people who live in the company’s service area.

“Crossing boundaries and working together to provide service to our customers shows we care,” she said. “We made a little boy’s Christmas wish for his family come true.”

The child’s father said his son’s wish for a remote-controlled car and blanket were also fulfilled. But we will all have to wait and see if Old Saint Nick is able to pull off a white Christmas.

Study Names SWEPCO, I&M 2016 Utility Customer Champions

Receiving the SWEPCO Market Strategies award are (from left) Sandra Bennett, vice president, Finance & Regulatory, Malcolm Smoak, vice president, Distribution Operations, Brett Mattison, director, Customer Services & Marketing, Venita McCellon-Allen, SWEPCO president and chief operating officer, Carey Sullivan, director, Corporate Communications, and Brian Bond, vice president, External Affairs. Photo by Scott Truelove.

Market Strategies International has named Southwestern Electric Power Company (SWEPCO) and  Indiana Michigan Power Company (I&M) 2016 Utility Customer Champions for their strong relationship with customers.

SWEPCO was recognized as both a Commercial Customer Champion and a Residential Customer Champion. According to Market Strategies International, “These utilities represent best practices in how they have grown strong customer relationships, built trusted brands and developed operational satisfaction among their customers.”

“Utilities deserve a lot of credit for building strong relationships with businesses that drive local economies,” said Chris Oberle, senior vice president at Market Strategies International. “This year’s Customer Champions are strengthening engagement with unmanaged account customers by offering them choices on rates, demand-side management programs, energy management tools, distributed energy and other offerings.”

“SWEPCO is very humbled and excited to receive the award for being a Customer Champion in the residential and business sector according to  the results of the Cogent/MSI Brand Trust Studies,” said Brett Mattison, SWEPCO director, Customer Services and Marketing. “We have always worked hard to ensure that we provide the customer with great service but over the last several years, we have intentionally increased our focus on the customer experience through the great work of the Customer Experience Work Plan. Every employee is familiar with our Customer Experience Values and have dedicated themselves to ensuring that the customer experience is always taken care of. This award is a reflection of the excellent work of all SWEPCO employees.’’

I&M was one of just three Midwest electric only utilities to receive a Residential Customer Champion award.

I&M was one of just three Midwest electric only utilities to receive a 2016 Residential Customer Champion award.

“We are happy to designate Indiana Michigan Power as a 2016 Customer Champion. Their customers have said they have strong and trusted relationships with this company,” said Oberle. “Specifically, I&M has improved customer scoring on environmental dedication, product education, safety, reliability and communications. So, they are now among the utility industry’s best customer brands.”

“I&M is truly honored to be presented with this award,” said Paul Chodak III, I&M president and chief operating officer. “Our I&M team strives to responsibly serve our customers with safe, reliable, affordable power and to enhance the service we provide our customers.”

Market Strategies International is a top, worldwide market research firm. The research firm’s Utility Trusted Brand and Customer Engagement: Residential study examined 130 of the nation’s largest electric and natural gas utilities to gauge their relationships with residential customers.

Appalachian Power Employee Helps Make Season Bright With Santa Train

(Story by Teresa Hall)

ROANOKE, Va. — For nearly 75 years, the Santa Train has delivered hope and joy at the holiday season to people who live in some of Appalachia’s most economically challenged communities.

Appalachian Power employee Rob Arnold, customer design supervisor – Kingsport, knows the story of the Santa Train well. Arnold recently volunteered with a team that followed behind the train last month handing out food, toys and backpacks to children.

This was the 74th year that the Santa Train made its annual trek across the southern Appalachian mountains from Kentucky to Kingsport. Along the 110-mile journey, the train made 14 stops for Santa and his helpers to give out clothing, toys and food.

Arnold’s experience was one he won’t forget.

“I had the pleasure of working one of the food trucks that follows the train,” Arnold said. “Our job was to hand out food bags during the stop and to stay after the train left to make sure no child was missed with toys and backpacks filled with clothing.”

The annual journey begins in Shelby, Ky., near Pikeville in Kentucky Power territory, and crosses through Appalachian Power’s territory in the mountains of southwest Virginia before ending in Kingsport, Tenn. Over the route the train travels, approximately 15 tons of food, gifts and clothing are distributed along the way.

CSX donates personnel, equipment, logistics support, gift bags, train cars and track time to support the Santa Train each year; other sponsors are critical to the Santa Train’s success. Food City and the Kingsport Chamber of Commerce provide many of the donations and volunteers to staff the train, stuff gift bags, and provide gift storage, and Dignity U Wear provides the winter weather accessories included in each gift bag.

Loose in the School: APCo Readers, Gingerbread Man Unleashed on Hundreds of Schools

(Story by Jeri Matheney)

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A gingerbread man running through the halls makes for an exciting day at school. So does another kind of visitor in the school – an Appalachian Power employee who’s come to read a story!

Almost 17,000 elementary students in West Virginia, Virginia and Tennessee were treated to just such a visit on Nov. 17. The visits were part of Read to Me Day, an annual event in which employees volunteer to read to students at schools throughout the company’s West Virginia, Virginia and Tennessee service territory.

This year, employees read the book, “The Gingerbread Man: Loose in the School,” by Laura Murray, a Virginia author. They then donated the book to the school library.

“It’s such a magical experience for kids to have someone come to their school just to read them a book. It’s so rewarding for our readers to witness that,” said [Charles Patton], Appalachian Power president and chief operating officer, and a volunteer reader at Weberwood Elementary in Charleston. “Our reason for devoting so much effort to Read to Me Day is to reach as many children as possible with the magic of a good story. Children who enjoy books will read more. Ultimately, they’ll be better readers and do better in school.

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“It’s always exciting to have a visitor in school,” Patton added. “And it’s certainly a big change from an ordinary day for our line mechanics, meter readers and call center representatives who volunteer to read. It makes for a memorable day for both the kids and the employees.”

This year, 314 readers read to students at 418 schools. First started in 2001, Read to Me Day coordinator Debby Pannell, corporate communications representative, estimates employees have read to more than 250,000 students and donated approximately 6,000 books over the 16 years of the program.

A social media hashtag, “RTMD2016,” helped schools and readers share their photos on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Dozens of photos were posted on Appalachian Power’s social media pages, plus photos from many more schools and readers were shared on the company’s pages. For a sample, go to Appalachian Power’s Facebook page, or on Facebook, search RTMD2016.

Usually, volunteer readers sport a new shirt with the Appalachian Power logo, given by the company in recognition of their volunteer effort. But this year, employees decided to instead put that money toward donations to libraries in flood-damaged areas of the state.

The Elk Valley and Clendenin branches of Kanawha County Library, the Clay County Library, the Walton Library in Roane County, and the Rainelle Library in Greenbrier County all received donations in the name of Appalachian Power readers. In all, the libraries received $8,000, which is designated to the children’s areas in each library.


AEP Service Corporation

Thomas Competti, 84, retired, AEP Headquarters, died Oct. 7.

Samuel Schwalb, 90, retired, AEP Headquarters, died Oct. 12.

Appalachian Power Company

Leo Cook, 75, retired, Beckley Service Center, died Oct. 23.

Everett Harris, 93, retired, Glen Lyn Plant, died Oct. 3.

Harry Jackson, 90, retired, Clinch River Plant, died Sept. 18.

Mary Kirby, 91, retired, Bluefield Office, died Oct. 9.

Keith Shahan, 70, Milton Service Center, died Oct. 13.

Jerry Smith, 77, retired, Pulaski Service Center, died Oct. 27.

Columbus Southern Power Company

Glenn Almy Jr., 81, retired, 850 Tech Center, died Sept. 24.

Richard Furr, 85, retired, 850 Tech Center, died Oct. 4.

Charles Johnson, 91, retired, Athens Service Center, died Oct. 4.

Thomas Ott, 80, retired, Conesville Plant, died Oct. 23.

Indiana Michigan Power Company

Frances Mitchell, 74, Cook Nuclear Plant, died Oct. 21.

Lois Roush, 90, retired, South Bend Service Center, died Oct. 21.

David Rumpf, 58, Cook Nuclear Plant, died Oct. 26.

Kentucky Power Company

Noah Ashby, 67, Robert E. Matthews Service Center, died Oct. 14.

Ohio Power Company

Juanita Looney, 86, retired, Portsmouth Service Center, died Oct. 13.

Howard Ludewig, 87, retired, Canton Eastern Regional Office, died Oct. 18.

Franklin Pierson, 69, Kammer Plant, died Sept. 29.

Donald Schilling, 85, retired, Gavin Plant, died Oct. 6.

Jane Shaffer, 97, retired, Canton Eastern Regional Office, died Oct. 10.

Glenn Spitznogle, 86, retired, Lancaster Office Building, died Sept. 29.

Public Service Company of Oklahoma

James Conway, 82, Tulsa General Office, died Oct. 4.

Southwestern Electric Power Company

David Crile, 65, Flint Creek Plant, died Oct. 14.

Texas Central

H.W. Bierley, 91, retired, Corpus Christi Office, died Sept. 28.

Robert Halberdier, 71, retired, Corpus Christi Office, died Oct. 2.

Alpha Kimes, 88, retired, Corpus Christi Office, died Oct. 1.

George McCarley, 73, Uvalde Service Center, died Oct. 16.

Joy Routh, 85, retired, Corpus Christi Office, died Sept. 20.

Texas North

James Estes, 87, retired, Abilene General Office, died Sept. 18.

James Hodge, 74, Abilene Distribution, died Sept. 26.

October Retirements

AEP Service Corporation

Charles Dreshman, AEP Headquarters, retired Oct. 29 after 29 years of service.

AEP Ohio

Jane Munnerlyn, Columbus Southeast Service Center, retired Oct. 28 after 30 years of service.

AEP Texas

Robert Jochims, Corpus Christi Office, retired Oct. 1 after 36 years of service.

Ysidoro Perez Jr., Aransas Pass Service Center, retired Oct. 8 after 37 years of service.

Appalachian Power Company

Olin Blain Jr., Central Machine Shop, retired Oct. 1 after 37 years of service.

Charles Boggess, Ripley Service Center, retired Oct. 19 after 36 years of service.

Randy Powell, Pineville Service Center, retired Oct. 1 after 34 years of service.


Carl Cunningham, Amos Plant, retired Oct. 22 after 27 years of service.

Bradford Jenkins, Cardinal Plant, retired Oct. 25 after 29 years of service.

Quenton Northcraft Jr., Cardinal Plant, retired Oct. 22 after 42 years of service.

Dwayne Robinson, Rockport Plant, retired Oct. 1 after 35 years of service.

Melvin Woods, Cardinal Plant, retired Oct. 29 after 35 years of service.

Indiana Michigan Power Company

Peter Chenosky, Buchanan Nuclear Generation Office, retired Oct. 1 after 23 years of service.

Susan Cox, One Summit Square, retired Oct. 29 after 29 years of service.

Public Service Company of Oklahoma

Melodie Bateman, Tulsa General Office, retired Oct. 1 after 38 years of service.

Michele Dittmeyer, Lawton Operations Center, retired Oct. 1 after 12 years of service.

Gaylynn Dyches, Tulsa General Office, retired Oct. 1 after 36 years of service.

Southwestern Electric Power Company

Hiram Hawley, Mt. Pleasant Service Center, retired Oct. 6 after 22 years of service.


Terry Gayheart, Canton South Service Center, retired Oct. 4 after 35 years of service.

James Hinton, Canton South Service Center, retired Oct. 4 after 31 years of service.

Howard Hypes Jr., Abingdon Transmission Building, retired Oct. 1 after 38 years of service.

Anthony Petrowsky Jr., AEP Transmission New Albany, retired Oct. 22 after 12 years of service.


Rozsa named to magazine’s All America Executive Team

Bette Jo Rozsa

For the first time ever, an AEP employee was named on Institutional Investor magazine’s 2017 All America Executive Team. The prestigious annual ranking recognizes the nation’s top corporate leaders as judged by investment professionals.

Bette Jo Rozsa, AEP managing director, Investor Relations, was named to the Executive Team, ranking third overall and second by the Sell Side as “Best Investor Relations Professional in Electric Utilities.” Jeff Kotkin from Eversource (Northeast Utilities) ranked first in the category and Scott Cunningham from Edison ranked second. In addition, AEP finished third overall in the “Most Honored Companies for Electric Utilities” category. NextEra finished first and Eversource finished 2nd.

“I want to congratulate Bette Jo on receiving this honor from the investment community. This is the first time anyone from AEP has ever been named in the rankings,” said Nick Akins, AEP chairman, president and chief executive officer. “Bette Jo’s recognition is a reflection of the work of our entire finance organization and many others to position AEP as the premier regulated energy company in the country.”

“Bette Jo and her team have done a phenomenal job sharing the AEP story with investors, managing their expectations and equipping our entire executive team with the strategic messaging we need to deliver to The Street,” added Brian Tierney, AEP executive vice president and chief financial officer. “Her leadership, counsel and professionalism have long been valued at AEP, and I’m thrilled that she is receiving this well-deserved recognition for all of the work she does to manage our corporate reputation and ensure that our corporate strategy and execution are well understood.”

Institutional Investor received unprecedented investor feedback in the Electric Utilities sector – 138 investors voted this year, up from 67 last year.

Online Shopping Safety Tips

onlinethumb(Story by Pamela Busby)

AEP Security is providing this article on behalf of US-CERT to help you stay safe online. 

Why do online shoppers have to take special precautions?

The Internet offers convenience not available from other shopping outlets. From the comfort of your home, you can search for items from multiple vendors, compare prices with a few mouse clicks, and make purchases without waiting in line. However, the Internet is also convenient for attackers, giving them multiple ways to access the personal and financial information of unsuspecting shoppers. Attackers who are able to obtain this information may use it for their own financial gain, either by making purchases themselves or by selling the information to someone else.

In Store Shopping Safety Tips

  • Try to shop during the day, but if you do shop at night, do not do it alone.
  • Park in well-lit areas.
  • Lock your car doors, close windows.
  • Place valuables out of sight before arriving at your destination.
  • Dress casually and comfortably.
  • Avoid wearing expensive jewelry.
  • Do not carry a purse or wallet, if possible. Consider bringing a security travel pouch instead.
  • Always carry your driver’s license or identification along with necessary cash, checks and/or a credit card you expect to use.
  • If you discover that a credit card is missing, notify the credit card company as soon as possible. Don’t assume that you misplaced it and will find it later.
  • Keep a record of all of your credit card numbers in a safe place at home.
  • Recognize when you are rushed, distracted and stressed out, and stay alert to what is going on around you.
  • Be extra careful if you do carry a wallet or purse. They are the prime targets of criminals in crowded shopping areas, terminals, bus stops, on buses and other rapid transit.
  • Avoid overloading yourself with packages. It is important to have clear visibility and freedom of motion if you are approached.
  • Beware of strangers approaching you for any reason. At this time of year, con artists may try various methods of distracting you, including working in teams, with the intention of taking your money or belongings.


How do attackers target online shoppers?

There are three common ways that attackers can take advantage of online shoppers:

  • Creating fraudulent sites and email messages – Unlike traditional shopping, where you know that a store is actually the store it claims to be, attackers can create malicious websites or email messages that appear to be legitimate. Attackers may also misrepresent themselves as charities, especially after natural disasters or during holiday seasons. Attackers create these malicious sites and email messages to try to convince you to supply personal and financial information.
  • Intercepting insecure transactions – If a vendor does not use encryption, an attacker may be able to intercept your information as it is transmitted.
  • Targeting vulnerable computers – If you do not take steps to protect your computer from viruses or other malicious code, an attacker may be able to gain access to your computer and all of the information on it. It also is important for vendors to protect their computers to prevent attackers from accessing customer databases.


How can you protect yourself?

  • Do business with reputable vendors – Before providing any personal or financial information, make sure you are interacting with a reputable, established vendor. Some attackers may try to trick you by creating malicious websites that appear to be legitimate, so you should verify the legitimacy before supplying any information. Attackers may obtain a site certificate for a malicious website to appear more authentic, so review the certificate information, particularly the “issued to” information. Locate and note phone numbers and physical addresses of vendors in case there is a problem with your transaction or your bill.
  • Make sure your information is being encrypted – Many sites use secure sockets layer (SSL) to encrypt information. Indications that your information will be encrypted include a URL that begins with “https:” instead of “http:” and a padlock icon. If the padlock is closed, the information is encrypted. The location of the icon varies by browser; for example, it may be to the right of the address bar or at the bottom of the window. Some attackers try to trick users by adding a fake padlock icon, so make sure that the icon is in the appropriate location for your browser.
  • Be wary of emails requesting information – Attackers may attempt to gather information by sending emails requesting that you confirm purchase or account information. Legitimate businesses will not solicit this type of information through email. Do not provide sensitive information through email. If you receive an unsolicited email from a business, instead of clicking on the provided link, directly log on to the authentic website by typing the address yourself.
  • Use a credit card – There are laws to limit your liability for fraudulent credit card charges, but you may not have the same level of protection for your debit cards. Additionally, because a debit card draws money directly from your bank account, unauthorized charges could leave you with insufficient funds to pay other bills. You can minimize potential damage by using a single, low-limit credit card to make all of your online purchases. Also use a credit card when using a payment gateway such as PayPal, Google Wallet, or Apple Pay.
  • Check your shopping app settings – Look for apps that tell you what they do with your data and how they keep it secure. Keep in mind that there is no legal limit on your liability with money stored in a shopping app (or on a gift card). Unless otherwise stated under the terms of service, you are responsible for all charges made through your shopping app.
  • Check your statements – Keep a record of your purchases and copies of confirmation pages, and compare them to your bank statements. If there is a discrepancy, report it immediately.
  • Check privacy policies – Before providing personal or financial information, check the website’s privacy policy. Make sure you understand how your information will be stored and used.

AEP Exposes Tricks Scammers Use to Steal Money From Customers

Protect yourself, your family and friends against scammers.

(Story by Carey Sullivan)

AEP and more than 80 other gas and electric utilities in the United States and Canada have joined forces to protect customers from long-running scams.

These utilities have designated November 16 as “Utilities United Against Scams Day.”

AEP and other utilities are exposing the tricks scammers use to steal money from customers.

“The scammers have targeted local businesses, senior citizens and customers whose native language is not English,” said Brett Mattison, Southwestern Electric Power Company’s (SWEPCO) director of customer services and marketing. “We’re sharing this information so customers can protect themselves from this fraudulent activity.”

The thieves are calling AEP customers and:

  • Threatening to shut off power in an hour unless an immediate payment is made;
  • Telling customers they need a new electric meter, but must make a payment before the new meter is installed;
  • Offering a discount on their bill if they sign up for auto-pay; and
  • Demanding a deposit be paid immediately.


“AEP employees will never demand immediate payment, insist a payment be made with a prepaid credit card or ask a customer to meet us in a parking lot to make a payment,” said Linda Cosby, customer operations manager based at the Shreveport Customer Solutions Center.

Additional red flags for scam activity

The thief instructs the customer to purchase a pre-paid debit or credit card — widely available at retail stores — then call him or her back to supposedly make a payment. The scammer asks the customer for the prepaid card’s receipt number and PIN number, which grants instant access to the card’s funds.

Some scammers also are displaying AEP’s name as the Caller ID. Others play a telephone recording that sounds like an AEP phone system message.

Protect family, friends

“Please take the time to warn your family and friends about these scams,” Mattison said. “It’s not just AEP seeing this. It’s utilities and customers across the country.”

If someone suspects they’re being scammed, they should hang up, call the local police and then contact their AEP operating company. Never dial the phone number the scammers provide. Customers can call AEP anytime to verify their account balance and the date their payment is due.

For customers who are facing disconnection, AEP will notify them by mail that their account is past due and their electric service will be disconnected. AEP will contact the customer multiple times before their service is cut off.

“In the initial stages of the scam activity, it is estimated that at least 50 percent of customers contacted were tricked.” said Carolyn Martin, who reviews scams reported to AEP, speaks with customers who have been victimized and compiles a monthly report. “On average, more than 90 percent of customers who receive a call and report it indicated they did not fall for the scam.”

AEP is working with local, state and federal law enforcement agencies to identify and prosecute scammers. For more information, go to SWEPCO’s webpage.

Former AEP SVP Gregory Vassell Passes Away

Gregory Vassell

Gregory Vassell

Gregory Vassell, 94, former AEP senior vice president of System Planning, died Nov. 3.

A native of Russia, Vassell joined the AEP System in 1951 as an assistant engineer. He was always interested in the theoretical side of power engineering and found a home in System Planning. He moved through the engineering ranks in the 1950s and 60s, and was elected assistant vice president in 1968, vice president-system planning in 1973, and senior vice president in 1976.

Vassell promoted development of AEP’s extra-high voltage transmission system, including the 765-kV network, now the nation’s largest. His analysis of the causes of the 1965 blackout led to his participation in the founding of the East Central Area Reliability Coordination Agreement.

The AEP executive was named a fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, a member of the CIGRE (International Council on Large Electric Systems) and an alternate representative on the U.S. national committee for the World Energy Conference. In 1980, he was elected a member of the prestigious National Academy of Engineering for his contributions in the field of electric energy. He retired from the company Dec. 31, 1987.

For his many contributions in transmission engineering, AEP named a 765/345/138-kilovolt (kV) “super” station in Sunbury, Ohio, after him.

A memorial service will be held for Vassell Nov. 20 in Dublin, Ohio. View the attachment for more information and directions.