American Electric Power
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|Type||Public (NYSE: AEP)|
|Headquarters||1 Riverside Plaza
Columbus, OH 43215
|Area served||AK, IN, KY, LA, MI, OH, OK, TN, TX, VA, WV|
|Key people||Michael G. Morris, CEO|
|Industry||Electric Producer and Utility|
|Revenue||$12.1 billion (2007)|
|Net income||▲ $1.09 billion (2007)|
Indiana Michigan Power
Public Service Co. of Oklahoma
Southwestern Electric Power Co.
|Subsidiaries||Columbus Southern Power
Texas Central Co.
Texas North Co.
Indiana Michigan Power
Public Service Co. of Oklahoma
Southwestern Electric Power Co.
American Electric Power (AEP) is a major investor-owner electric utility operating in various parts of the United States. It is headquartered in Columbus, Ohio. It serves parts of 11 states, and is currently the largest electricity generating utility in the United States.
Ties to the American Legislative Exchange Council
American Electric Power was a "Chairman" level sponsor of 2011 American Legislative Exchange Council Annual Conference, which in 2010, equated to $50,000. AEP President, Nicholas K. Akins, spoke on "A Smarter Approach to Improving our Environment: Addressing the Costs of Proposed EPA Regulations on Energy Affordability," sponsored by the Energy, Environment and Agriculture Task Force, at the 2011 ALEC Annual Meeting.
In December 2015 AEP announced that it would not renew its membership in ALEC. "We reviewed our memberships and decided to reallocate resources to other areas of focus including working directly with the states and other stakeholder groups on issues like the 'Clean Power Plan,'" a spokesperson said. See Corporations that Have Cut Ties to ALEC for more.
ALEC is a corporate bill mill. It is not just a lobby or a front group; it is much more powerful than that. Through ALEC, corporations hand state legislators their wishlists to benefit their bottom line. Corporations fund almost all of ALEC's operations. They pay for a seat on ALEC task forces where corporate lobbyists and special interest reps vote with elected officials to approve “model” bills. Learn more at the Center for Media and Democracy's ALECexposed.org, and check out breaking news on our PRWatch.org site.
The company is divided into seven major geographic local operating companies:
- AEP Ohio, made up of the former Ohio Power and Columbus Southern Power Company
- Appalachian Power Company, serving West Virginia and Virginia
- Indiana Michigan Power
- Kentucky Power
- Public Service Company of Oklahoma (PSO), and
- Southwestern Electric Power Company, often called SWEPCO, serving Arkansas, Louisiana, and eastern Texas
- AEP Texas Central Company (TCC), formerly Central Power and Light Company, and AEP Texas North Company (TNC), formerly West Texas Utilities Company
In addition, two smaller divisions, Wheeling Power Company (serving Wheeling, West Virginia) and Kingsport Electric Power (serving Kingsport, Tennessee), are operated as de facto parts of AEP Ohio and Appalachian Power, respectively.
AEP owns and operates the Donald C. Cook nuclear power plant.
AEP also bought much of the town of Cheshire, Ohio, after it had become contaminated.
The company also operates its own inland barge line, AEP River Operations (fomerly MEMCO Barge Line), and owns major tracts of land throughout its service areas.
Negative tax rate
In December 2011, the organization Public Campaign published a report called "For Hire: Lobbyists or the 99%?" on corporations that have paid more on lobbying than on federal taxes. AEP was fifth: between 2008 and 2010, American Electric Power received a tax rebate of $545 million and made $5.899 billion in US profits, meaning it paid a tax rate of -9%.
A 2011 analysis by Citizens for Tax Justice and the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, "Corporate Taxpayers & Corporate Tax Dodgers: 2008-10" found dozens of companies, including fossil fuels, used tax breaks and various tax dodging methods to have a negative tax balance between 2008 and 2010, while making billions in profits. A Think Progress analysis of the data found that 32 companies in the fossil-fuel industry -- such as AEP, Peabody Energy, ConEd, and PG&E -- transformed a tax responsibility of $17.3 billion on $49.4 billion in pretax profits into a tax benefit of $6.5 billion, for a net gain of $24 billion.
The 2012 Public Interest Research Group and Citizens for Tax Justice report, "Representation Without Taxation: Fortune 500 Companies that Spend Big on Lobbying and Avoid Taxes," noted that while AEP collected $545 million in tax subsidies from 2008 to 2010, it spent $28.8 million over the same period of time lobbying.
In May 2007, Forbes listed AEP CEO Michael G. Morris as receiving $13.05 million in total compensation for the latest fiscal year, with a three-year total compensation of $22.03 million. He ranked 3rd on the list of CEOs in the Utilities industry, and 137th among all CEOs in the United States.
Executive compensation jumped 30% between 2008 and 2010, from $18,259,623 to $23,721,031. During the same period, American Electric Power has laid off 2,600 workers.
Congressional campaign contributions
American Electric Power is the single largest energy contributor to both Republican and Democratic candidates for Congress. These contributions total $597,881 to the 110th US Congress (as of the third quarter of 2008), the largest of which has been to John Boehner (R-OH) for $25,050. Rep. Boehner, for his part, has consistently voted with the coal industry on energy bills.
Contributions like this from from fossil fuel companies to members of Congress are often seen as a political barrier to pursuing clean energy. 
Between 2009 and 2011, American Electric power spent $579,000 on federal campaign contributions. In addition, it spent $28.85 million on lobbying between 2008 and 2010.
American Electric Power also spent $80,000 on Compass Consulting Group in 2008 and a further $20,000 to date in 2009. The registered lobbyists were Ted Hollingsworth, Thomas F. Needles and Patrick A. Smith.
American Electric Power also spent $350,000 on Van Ness Feldman in 2008 and a further $50,000 to date in 2009.  The registered lobbyists for the first three-quarters of 2008 were Stephen Fotis, Todd Wooten and Tracy Nagelbush. The registered lobbyists for last quarter of 2008 were Fotis, Wooten, Nagelbush and Robert Nordhaus. The registered lobbyists for 2009 were Fotis and Nagelbush.
- Total Lobbying expenditures for 2008: $12,248,938
- Total Lobbying expenditures to date for 2009: $1,796,913
American Electric Power is a member of the American Coal Ash Association (ACAA), an umbrella lobbying group for all coal ash interests that includes major coal burners Duke Energy and Southern Company as well as dozens of other companies. The group argues that the so-called "beneficial-use industry" would be eliminated if a "hazardous" designation was given for coal ash waste.
Justice Department lawsuit
The United States Justice Department filed a lawsuit in November 3, 1999, against AEP and six other companies for violating the Clean Air Act. On October 8, 2007, AEP agreed to install US$4.6 billion in equipment to reduce emission, as well as pay a US$15 million civil fine.
The company will cut 813,000 tons of air pollutants annually once all of the controls are installed. According to the press release, the agreement imposes caps on emissions of pollutants from 16 plants located in five states. The facilities are located in Moundsville, West Virginia (2 facilities), St. Albans, West Virginia, Glasgow, West Virginia, and New Haven, West Virginia (2 facilities), West Virginia; Louisa, Kentucky; Glen Lyn, Virginia and Carbo, Virginia; Brilliant, Ohio, Conesville, Ohio, Cheshire, Ohio, Lockbourne, Ohio, and Beverly, Ohio; and Rockport, Indiana and Lawrenceburg, Indiana.
Public nuisance lawsuit: Connecticut v. AEP et al.
Connecticut v. AEP et al. involves a federal public nuisance claim filed by state attorney generals and conservation groups against utilities for their large contributions to climate change and resistance to lowering greenhouse gas emissions. The case was dismissed by the district court in 2005 and then reversed by the Second Circuit court in 2009. In 2010, the Obama Administration submitted a brief urging the Second Circuit to reconsider its reversal, arguing that the issue should be addressed by the EPA, and courts should stay out.
On December 6, 2010, the Supreme Court said it will hear an appeal from defendant electric utilities, agreeing to consider ending the federal lawsuit by eight states, which asks a federal judge to order reductions in the emissions in plants in 20 states. The American Electric Power Co. and the other utilities do not want courts getting involved in the issue. The companies argue that only the Environmental Protection Agency can set emissions standards. The Obama administration, representing the TVA, want to avoid a full hearing at the high court, saying EPA regulation is a more efficient process than a federal lawsuit. The case will be argued in spring 2011. Justice Sonia Sotomayor, who was on the 2nd Circuit panel that heard the case, is not taking part in the Supreme Court's consideration of the issue.
Proposed coal plants
- Hempstead (sponsored by Southwestern Electric Power Co, SWEPCO, a subsidiary of American Electric Power)
Existing coal-fired power plants
Out of its total 35,843 MW of electric generating capacity in 2005 (3.36% of the U.S. total), AEP gets 69.0% from coal, 22.2% from natural gas, 6.4% from nuclear, and 2.3% from hydroelectricity. AEP owns power plants in Arkansas, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Ohio, Oklahoma, Texas, Virginia, and West Virginia.
AEP had 52 coal-fired generating stations in 2005, with 26,595 MW of capacity. Here is a list of AEP's coal power plants with capacity over 100 MW: In 2006 and 2007 coal accounted for 85% of AEP's energy source, and 86% in 2008.
|Plant Name||State||County||Year(s) Built||Capacity||2007 CO2 Emissions||2006 SO2 Emissions||Annual Deaths|
|John E. Amos||WV||Putnam||1971-73||2933 MW||15,300,000 tons||117,299 tons||87|
|Rockport||IN||Spencer||1984, 1989||2600 MW||16,600,000 tons||83,543 tons||138|
|Gavin||OH||Gallia||1974, 1975||2600 MW||18,700,000 tons||24,787 tons||45|
|Conesville||OH||Coshocton||1962, 1973, 1976, 1978||1891 MW||9,060,000 tons||90,540 tons||44|
|Cardinal||OH||Jefferson||1967, 1977||1880 MW||10,100,000 tons||86,880 tons||55|
|Welsh||TX||Titus||1977, 1980, 1982||1674 MW||11,900,000 tons||37,154 tons||37|
|Mitchell||WV||Marshall||1971||1633 MW||8,478,000 tons||53,152 tons||51|
|Muskingum River||OH||Washington||1953, 1954, 1957, 1958, 1968||1529 MW||7,299,000 tons||122,984 tons||28|
|Mountaineer||WV||Mason||1980||1300 MW||7,727,000 tons||31,052 tons||38|
|Philip Sporn||WV||Mason||1950-52, 1960||1106 MW||5,407,000 tons||39,741 tons||110|
|Tanners Creek||IN||Dearborn||1951, 1952, 1954, 1964||1100 MW||5,963,000 tons||35,494 tons||120|
|Big Sandy||KY||Lawrence||1963, 1969||1097 MW||5,807,000 tons||46,476 tons||55|
|Northeastern||OK||Rogers||1979, 1980||946 MW||7,511,000 tons||34,645 tons||62|
|Pirkey||TX||Harrison||1985||721 MW||6,037,000 tons||32,391 tons||20|
|Oklaunion||TX||Wilbarger||1986||720 MW||5,016,000 tons||3,794 tons||7|
|Clinch River||VA||Russell||1958, 1961||713 MW||3,680,000 tons||27,134 tons||69|
|Kammer||WV||Marshall||1958-59||713 MW||3,244,000 tons||119,369 tons||70|
|Flint Creek||AR||Benton||1978||558 MW||3,977,000 tons||8,526 tons||20|
|Kanawha River||WV||Kanawha||1953||439 MW||1,820,000 tons||13,543 tons||40|
|Glen Lyn||VA||Giles||1944, 1957||338 MW||1,356,000 tons||13,632 tons||31|
|Picway||OH||Pickaway||1955||106 MW||366,000 tons||15,071 tons||not available|
|Total||26,597 MW||155,348,000 tons||1,037,000 tons||1,127|
In 2005, AEP's 21 major coal-fired power plants emitted 155.3 million tons of CO2 (2.6% of all U.S. CO2 emissions) and 1,037,000 tons of SO2 (6.9% of all U.S. SO2 emissions).
Through subsidiaries, AEP owns, leases, or controls more than 9,000 railcars, 726 barges, 18 towboats, and a coal handling terminal with 18 million tons of annual capacity to move and store coal for use in its generating facilities.
May 2010: AEP to run 10 coal units part-time
In May 2010, American Electric Power announced it planned to run 10 small coal-fired power units on a part-time basis starting in June as "the weak economy reduced demand and low natural gas prices have made the use of some coal units less profitable," according to the company.
The units include:
- Picway 5
- Muskingum River 4
- Clinch River 3
- Tanners Creek 1
- Tanners Creek 2
- Glen Lyn 5
- Glen Lyn 6
- Philip Sporn 3
- Philip Sporn 4
- Philip Sporn 5
In the previous month - April 14, 2010 - AEP sent letters to all of the company's employees offering to buyout between 1,000 and 2,000 workers. The cuts would reduce the company's workforce, which now stands near 22,000 in eleven states, by up to 10 percent. Meanwhile, executive compensation jumped 30% between 2008 and 2010, from $18,259,623 to $23,721,031.
Mountaineer carbon capture and storage project cancelled
In August 2009, AEP applied for funding from the U.S. Department of Energy's Clean Coal Power Initiative. The company asked for a $334 million grant to cover about half of the estimated costs of installing carbon capture and storage system. According to the grant application, the system would attempt to capture at least 90 percent of the carbon dioxide from 235 MW of the plant's 1,300 MW total capacity. The captured carbon dioxide, which was expected to be about 1.5 million metric tons per year, would have been injected into geologic formations about 1.5 miles under ground. The company could have had the system operational in 2015.
In December 2009, AEP was awarded the $334 million grant from the Department of Energy for the CCS project at its Mountaineer plant. The company noted that the "Mountaineer Plant CCS projects employ Alstom’s patented chilled ammonia process for post-combustion CO2 capture. The process uses ammonium carbonate to absorb CO2. The resulting ammonium bicarbonate is converted back to ammonium carbonate in a regenerator and is reused to repeat the process. The flue gas, cleaned of CO2, flows back to the stack and the captured CO2 is sent for storage."
On July 14, 2011, American Electric Power said it had decided to table plans to build the full-scale carbon-capture plant at Mountaineer, saying they did not believe state regulators would let the company recover its costs by charging customers, thus leaving it no "compelling regulatory or business reason to continue the program." The federal Department of Energy had pledged to cover half the cost, but AEP said it was unwilling to spend the remainder in a political climate that had changed strikingly since it began the project. A senior Obama administration official said that the A.E.P. decision was a result of the political stalemate on climate change legislation, which failed to pass the Senate. Public service commissions of both West Virginia and Virginia turned down the company’s request for full reimbursement for the pilot plant, operating since 2009. West Virginia said earlier in 2011 that the cost should have been shared among all the states where AEP does business; Virginia hinted in July 2010 that it should have been paid for by all utilities around the United States, since a successful project would benefit all of them.
Concerning AEP's statement that costs could not be passed along, West Virginia journalist Ken Ward noted: "It's not exactly true that utility commissions aren’t allowing companies to pass costs of projects like this on to consumers... The West Virginia PSC allowed AEP rate hikes to cover our state’s share of the costs. Virginia regulators seemed willing to do the same.  James Fallows of The Atlantic wrote: "This is the kind of project that (was) the best and urgently necessary hope to allow the US, China, and other countries to keep using coal ... while reducing carbon emissions. 
American Electric Power Service Corporation Settlement
On October 9, 2007 the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. EPA announced that American Electric Power (AEP) agreed to pay a $15 million fine and spend $60 million on projects to mitigate the adverse effects of its past emissions. Of that $60 million, the EPA announced that it would be split 60%/40% between the United States and the various settling states. The company agreed to cut 813,000 tons of air pollutants each year at an cost of more than $4.6 billion.
It was the largest environmental enforcement settlement in U.S. history. AEP will install pollution control equipment to reduce and capture sulfur dioxide (SO2) and nitrogen oxide (NOx). The settlement resolved a lawsuit filed against AEP in 1999 for violating the New Source Review of the Clean Air Act. A coalition of eight states and 13 citizen and environmental groups joined the U.S. government in the settlement. A total of 16 plants located in five states were impacted.
“The AEP settlement will have an unprecedented impact on air quality in the eastern United States,” said Ronald J. Tenpas, acting assistant attorney general for the Justice Department's Environment and Natural Resources Division. “This settlement is a major victory for the environment and public health, and it demonstrates our continued commitment to vigorous enforcement of the Clean Air Act.”
American Electric installed three "scrubbers" at its largest power-generating unit at its John Amos Plant in West Virginia. The total cost of the project is estimated to be $1.04 billion.
"[The scrubbers are] going to provide a different look to the skyline. The plume will look different," said Phil Moye, spokesman for American Electric Power subsidiary Appalachian Power. "I describe it as a rolling, billowy, cloud-like plume. It's white. It will come from the new stack that was constructed as a part of the project."
Proposed coal plant closures
Public Service Company of Oklahoma to close 946 MW at Northeastern Station
Under an agreement between AEP subsidiary Public Service Company of Oklahoma (AEP-PSO) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, PSO will retire Unit 3 (473 MW) of its Northeastern Station by 2017, and Unit 4 (473 MW) of the station by 2026. In addition, AEP-PSO will install emissions controls on Unit 4. The agreement does not affect Units 1 and 2, which are fired by natural gas.
Ohio Power seeks 2010 retirement of Sporn Unit 5
In October 2010, Ohio Power Co. filed an application with the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio for the approval of a December 2010 closure of the coal-fired Philip Sporn Power Plant unit 5, Ohio Power parent American Electric Power said in a Nov. 1 Form 10-Q filing. Sporn has five coal units, with unit 5 having 450 MW of operating capacity and an in-service year of 1960. The plant's coal suppliers in 2010 included Keystone Development, the Mammoth Coal unit of Massey Energy, Mine Rite Coal, and Newtown Energy. In September 2009, Appalachian Power filed an integrated resource plan (IRP) in Virginia that projected a 2010 shutdown for Sporn unit 5. The same IRP projected that Sporn units 1-4, with 580 MW of total capacity, would be retired in 2018.
As part of a 2007 New Source Review (NSR) consent decree, Sporn unit 5 is required to be retired, repowered or retrofitted by Dec. 31, 2013. AEP's plan to comply with the consent decree included retirement of Sporn unit 5 at the end of 2013. But based on present and projected economic conditions, Ohio Power said Sporn unit 5 is no longer economic to operate, with the unit forecast to produce negative operating income for the next two years, bringing the company to seek 2010 retirement.
June 2011: AEP to retire nearly 60,000 MW
On June 9, 2011, AEP announced that, based on impending EPA regulations as proposed, AEP’s compliance plan would retire nearly 6,000 megawatts (MW) of coal-fueled power generation; upgrade or install new advanced emissions reduction equipment on another 10,100 MW; refuel 1,070 MW of coal generation as 932 MW of natural gas capacity; and build 1,220 MW of natural gas-fueled generation. The cost of AEP’s compliance plan could range from $6 billion to $8 billion in capital investment through the end of the decade.
AEP’s current plan for compliance with the rules as proposed includes permanently retiring the following coal-fueled power plants:
- Glen Lyn Plant, Glen Lyn, Va. – 335 MW (retired by Dec. 31, 2014);
- Kammer Plant, Moundsville, W.Va. – 630 MW (retired by Dec. 31, 2014);
- Kanawha River Plant, Glasgow, W.Va. – 400 MW (retired by Dec. 31, 2014);
- Philip Sporn Power Plant, New Haven, W.Va. – 1,050 MW (450 MW expected to retire in 2011, 600 MW retired by Dec. 31, 2014); and
- Picway Power Plant, Lockbourne, Ohio – 100 MW (retired by Dec. 31, 2014).
In addition, six other plants will reduce their power output:
- Big Sandy Plant, Louisa, Ky. - Units 1 and 2 (1,078 MW) retired by Dec. 31, 2014; Big Sandy Unit 1 would be rebuilt as a 640-MW natural gas plant by Dec. 31, 2015 (In December 2011, AEP said it plans to seek a 31 percent rate increase to keep Unit 2 in Kentucky operating, at a cost to customers of almost $1 billion. On May 30, 2012, AEP withdrew that request, saying it may determine later if a scrubber is needed);
- Clinch River Plant, Cleveland, Va. - Unit 3 (235 MW) retired by Dec. 31, 2014; Units 1 and 2 (470 MW total) would be refueled with natural gas with a capacity of 422 MW by Dec. 31, 2014;
- Conesville Power Plant, Conesville, Ohio - Unit 3 (165 MW) retired by Dec. 31, 2012; Units 5 and 6 (800 MW total) would continue operating with retrofits;
- Muskingum River Plant, Beverly, Ohio - Units 1-4 (840 MW) retired by Dec. 31, 2014; Muskingum River Unit 5 (600 MW) may be refueled with natural gas with a capacity of 510 MW by Dec. 31, 2014, depending on regulatory treatment in Ohio;
- Tanners Creek Plant, Lawrenceburg, Indiana - Units 1, 2 and 3 (495 MW) retired by Dec. 31, 2014; Unit 4 (500 MW) would continue to operate with retrofits; and
- Welsh Power Plant, Pittsburg, Texas - Unit 2 (528 MW) retired by Dec. 31, 2014; Units 1 and 3 (1,056 MW) would continue to operate with retrofits.
AEP also said it purchases about 24 million tons of coal from the Powder River Basin each year, or more than a third of the coal used by the company, and that it was unclear how the potential closures would affect the utility’s purchase of coal from the Powder River Basin. At least one of the power plants due to be partially closed, the Welsh Power Plant in Pittsburg, Texas, is entirely fueled by the basin’s coal, according to AEP. The Kammer Plant that is in Moundsville, W.V., another AEP power plant slated for closure, blends the basin’s coal into the mix it burns.
Controversy over cause of plant shutdowns
The proposed plant shutdowns were announced in a June 9, 2011 press release in which AEP blamed the Environmental Protection Agency for the plant closures and said layoffs of 600 workers would result.
The announcement set off a storm of controversy. The Wall Street Journal called it a result of "EPA's War on Jobs" and said: "The real goal of the EPA's rule is to shut down fossil fuel electric power in the name of climate change. The consensus estimate in the private sector is that the utility rule and eight others on the EPA docket will force the retirement of 60 out of the country's current 340 gigawatts of coal-fired capacity." 
The New York Times took a different view: "This is a deceptive and particularly cynical claim... These units are, on average, 55 years old. Some are running at only 5 percent of capacity. Many had long been slated for retirement, in part to comply with a 2007 settlement with the George W. Bush administration in which the company agreed to settle violations of the Clean Air Act by spending $4.7 billion to retire or retrofit aging units." 
Shortly after, on June 27, 2011, the AP reported that AEP spent $2 million lobbying on clean air and clean water rules in the 1st quarter of 2011, according to a disclosure report.
February 2013: AEP to phase out coal at three more plants
On February 25, 2013, AEP agreed to stop burning coal at three of its stations by 2015, updating an earlier 2007 settlement of a lawsuit filed in 1999. The three plants are Tanners Creek Generating Station Unit 4 in Indiana, the Muskingum River Power Plant Unit 5 in Ohio, and the Big Sandy Power Plant Unit 2 in Kentucky. AEP will also give $6 million to the eight states that, along with the EPA and environmental groups, filed the original 1999 lawsuit against it for trans-state pollution. The states are Massachusetts, Vermont, Rhode Island, Maryland, New Hampshire, Connecticut, New Jersey and New York. The company will also provide $2.5 million to citizen groups in Indiana working on air pollution.
EPA releases list of 44 "high hazard" coal ash dumps
In response to demands from environmentalists as well as Senator Barbara Boxer (D-California), chair of the Senate Committee on the Environment and Public Works, the EPA made public a list of 44 "high hazard potential" coal waste dumps. The rating applies to sites at which a dam failure would most likely cause loss of human life, but does not include an assessment of the likelihood of such an event. AEP owns 11 of the sites.
|Facility Name||Unit Name||Location|
|Big Sandy Plant||Fly Ash||Louisa, KY|
|Cardinal Plant||Fly Ash Reservoir 2||Brilliant, OH|
|Gavin Plant||Fly Ash Pond||Cheshire, OH|
|Gavin Plant||Bottom Ash Pond||Cheshire, OH|
|Amos Plant||Fly Ash Pond||St. Albans, WV|
|Mitchell Plant||Fly Ash Pond||Moundsville, WV|
|Muskingum River Plant||Unit 5 Bottom Ash Pond (Lower Fly Ash Pond)||Waterford, OH|
|Muskingum River Plant||Upper Fly Ash Pond||Waterford, OH|
|Muskingum River Plant||Middle Fly Ash Pond||Waterford, OH|
|Philip Sporn Power Plant||Fly Ash Pond||New Haven, WV|
|Tanners Creek Plant||Fly Ash Pond||Lawrenceburg, IN|
Issues at AEP surface impoundments in West Virginia
An engineering report submitted to EPA in November 2009 recommended upgrading the rating of two surface impoundments at the Philip Sporn Power Plant in West Virginia from "poor" to "fair." Engineers from Dewberry, an EPA contractor, said the dams were likely to hold in the event of an earthquake, but that repairs and additional tests were still necessary. EPA said it would consider the recommendations, and AEP said it would conduct further tests at the site. In addition to these investigations, the Department of Environmental Protection also discovered two nearby coal ash dams that officials were not aware existed, and that did not meet state safety regulations.
Flint Creek ranked 96th on list of most polluting power plants in terms of coal waste
In January 2009, Sue Sturgis of the Institute of Southern Studies compiled a list of the 100 most polluting coal plants in the United States in terms of coal combustion waste (CCW) stored in surface impoundments like the one involved in the TVA Kingston Fossil Plant coal ash spill. The data came from the EPA's Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) for 2006, the most recent year available.
Flint Creek Power Plant ranked number 96 on the list, with 221,456 pounds of coal combustion waste released to surface impoundments in 2006.
Coal Ash Waste and Water Contamination
In August 2010 a study released by the Environmental Integrity Project, the Sierra Club and Earthjustice reported that Arkansas, along with 34 states, had significant groundwater contamination from coal ash that is not currently regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The report, in an attempt to pressure the EPA to regulate coal ash, noted that most states do not monitor drinking water contamination levels near waste disposal sites. The report mentioned Arkansas based Flint Creek Power Plant and the Independence Steam Station were two sites that have groundwater contamination due to coal ash waste.
Study finds dangerous level of hexavalent chromium at Flint Creek and Conesville waste sites
A report released by EarthJustice and the Sierra Club in early February 2011 stated that there are many health threats associated with a toxic cancer-causing chemical found in coal waste called hexavalent chromium. The report specifically cited 29 sites in 17 states where the contamination was found. The information was gathered from existing EPA data on coal ash and included locations in Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota, Massachusetts, North Carolina, North Dakota, Nevada, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virgina and Wisconsin. AEP'sthe Flint Creek Power Plant and Conesville Power Plant were noted as having a high level of chromium at their coal waste landfills.
According to the report, the Flint Creek coal ash site is a landfill. Hexavalent chromium (Cr(VI)) was reported at the site above 128 ppb (parts per billion) - 6,400 times the proposed California drinking water goals and 1.28 times the federal drinking water standard. AEP's Conesville Power Plant coal ash site is also a landfill. Hexavalent chromium (Cr(VI)) was reported at the site at 100 ppb (parts per billion) - 5,000 times the proposed California drinking water goals and above the federal drinking water standard.
As a press release about the report read:
- Hexavalent chromium first made headlines after Erin Brockovich sued Pacific Gas & Electric because of poisoned drinking water from hexavalent chromium. Now new information indicates that the chemical has readily leaked from coal ash sites across the U.S. This is likely the tip of the iceberg because most coal ash dump sites are not adequately monitored.
According to the report, the electric power industry is the leading source of chromium and chromium compounds released into the environment, representing 24 percent of releases by all industries in 2009.
Death and disease attributable to fine particle pollution from AEP coal plants
In 2010, Abt Associates issued a study commissioned by the Clean Air Task Force, a nonprofit research and advocacy organization, quantifying the deaths and other health effects attributable to fine particle pollution from coal-fired power plants. Fine particle pollution consists of a complex mixture of soot, heavy metals, sulfur dioxide, and nitrogen oxides. Among these particles, the most dangerous are those less than 2.5 microns in diameter, which are so tiny that they can evade the lung's natural defenses, enter the bloodstream, and be transported to vital organs. Impacts are especially severe among the elderly, children, and those with respiratory disease. The study found that over 13,000 deaths and tens of thousands of cases of chronic bronchitis, acute bronchitis, asthma, congestive heart failure, acute myocardial infarction, dysrhythmia, ischemic heart disease, chronic lung disease, and pneumonia each year are attributable to fine particle pollution from U.S. coal plant emissions. These deaths and illnesses are major examples of coal's external costs, i.e. uncompensated harms inflicted upon the public at large. Low-income and minority populations are disproportionately impacted as well, due to the tendency of companies to avoid locating power plants upwind of affluent communities. To monetize the health impact of fine particle pollution from each coal plant, Abt assigned a value of $7,300,000 to each 2010 mortality, based on a range of government and private studies. Valuations of illnesses ranged from $52 for an asthma episode to $440,000 for a case of chronic bronchitis.
Table 1: Death and disease attributable to fine particle pollution from American Electric Power coal plants
|Type of Impact||Annual Incidence||Valuation|
|Heart attacks||1,758||$192.0 million|
|Asthma attacks||17,989||$0.9 million|
|Hospital admissions||209||$19.37 million|
|Chronic bronchitis||674||$299.18 million|
|Asthma ER visits||996||$0.4 million|
Source: "Health Impacts - annual - of Existing Plants," Clean Air Task Force Excel worksheet, available under "Data Annex" at "Death and Disease from Power Plants," Clean Air Task Force. Note: This data includes the following plants owned by AEP and subsidiaries Appalachian Power, Cardinal Operating Company, Central Operating Company, Columbus Southern Power Company, Indiana Michigan Power, Kentucky Power Company, Ohio Power, Southwestern Electric , and Public Service Company of Oklahoma: Clinch River, Glen Lyn, Amos Plant, Kanawha, Mountaineer Plant (Appalachian Power Co); Cardinal, (Cardinal Operating Co.); Philip Sporn, (Central Operating Co); Conesville, (Columbus Southern Co); Tanners Creek, Rockport Plant, (Indiana Michigan Power Co); Big Sandy Plant (Kentucky Power Co.); Gavin Power Plant, Kammer Plant, Mitchell Plant, Muskingum, (Ohio Power Co); Northeastern Station, Riverside Power Plant, (Public Service Company of Oklahoma), Flint Creek, Pirkey and Welsh, (Southwestern Electric Power Co).
AEP raises rates in Ohio
On March 18, 2009, the Ohio PUC approved rate increases for two AEP companies, but the hikes are only about half of of what the utility had requested. Columbus Southern Power customers will face a maximum increase of 7 percent in 2009 and 6 percent in both 2010 and 2011. Ohio Power customers will face a maximum increase of 8 percent in 2009, 7 percent in 2010, and 8 percent in 2011.
Ohio Supreme Court rules rate hikes unlawful
On April 26, 2011, the Office of the Ohio Consumers' Counsel (OCC) and additional customer groups filed a request with the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) to stop the collection of $175 million in electric rates, in response to an April 19, 2011 Supreme Court of Ohio unanimous decision that AEP was unlawfully allowed to increase several rates. The Court ruled in favor of the OCC in agreeing that AEP's 2009-2011 rate plan was unlawful by including $63 million in retroactive rates, $456 million in costs to potentially provide default service for customers who shop for an alternative supplier and $330 million in carrying charges for environmental investments. The groups joining the OCC in the suit include the Ohio Energy Group, Ohio Partners for Affordable Energy, Ohio Manufacturers' Association and the Ohio Hospital Association. The charges ruled unlawful included compensation for AEP's perceived risk as a back-up provider of electricity for shopping customers and carrying charges on environmental investments made prior to Jan. 1, 2009. Both charges continue to be collected from customers, at an estimated rate of $22 million per month, according to PUCO. The Court remanded the two issues to the PUCO for further consideration.
Researchers at the University of Massachusetts Amherst have identified American Electric as the 35th-largest corporate producer of air pollution in the United States, with roughly 88 million pounds of toxic chemicals released annually into the air. Major pollutants indicated by the study include sulfuric acid, chromium and nickel compounds, hydrochloric acid, and manganese compounds. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has named American Electric a potentially responsible party at the Green River Disposal Inc. Superfund toxic waste site.
Greenhouse gas emissions
In January 2012, the Environmental Protection Agency unveiled a new website that identifies most of the nation's biggest emitters of carbon dioxide, methane and other greenhouse gases. Three of the twentieth largest greenhouse gas emitters belong to American Electric Power: Rockport Plant, Gavin Power Plant, and the Amos Plant.
Citizen action and protest
July 10, 2006: Earth First!/Rising Tide blockade of Clinch River Power Plant
On July 10, 2006, 75 Earth First! and Rising Tide North America activists blockaded an access bridge leading to American Electric Power's coal-fired Clinch River Power Plant near Carbo, Virginia. Several people stretched a rope across the bridge and suspended themselves off the bridge's edge; others waved a coal truck onto the bridge, blockaded it, deflated its tires, and locked themselves to the truck. The protestors demanded that Clinch River and other outdated coal plants be shut down, and that mountaintop removal coal mining be ended. After several hours in which coal trucks were unable to get into the plant, police agreed to make no arrests if the activists would dismantle their blockades.
Pike County residents sue AEP for illegal mining that aggravated flooding
In August 2010, 126 people at mine sites near Harless Creek in Pike County filed a lawsuit against AEP Kentucky and Cambrian Coal after inspectors cited the coal companies for violations in the area, which residents say flattened and eroded the landscape and contributed to the flooding and damage of their property. The companies were mining on the nearby mountains. State inspectors cited Cambrian Coal the week after the flood for having too much sediment in one pond and allegedly mining more acres than a runoff pond could handle, causing excessive runoff that damaged a home. The families are seeking compensation for what they lost, and are asking for a jury trial.
From June 2009 to July 2011, several banks have provided large sums of money in the form of bond underwriting to AEP, including:
- Barclays Bank provided $300 million
- UBS provided $190 million
- Morgan Stanley provided $175 million
- Citigroup and JP Morgan Chase each provided $87.5 million
- Wells Fargo and Credit Suisse each provided $75 million
Articles and resources
Related SourceWatch articles
- Arkansas and coal
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- Michael G. Morris
- Global warming
- EPA Coal Plant Settlements
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