American Electric Power (AEP) takes its slice of the US power pie out of Middle America. The holding company is one of the largest power generators and distributors in the US. AEP owns the nation's largest electricity transmission system, a network of almost 40,000 miles. It also has 230,000 miles of distribution lines. Its electric utilities have 5.3 million customers in 11 states and have about 38,000 MW of largely coal-fired generating capacity. AEP is a top wholesale energy company; it markets electricity in the US. Other operations include coal and bulk commodities barge transportation services.
The company's electric utility operating companies provide generation, transmission, and distribution services to 5.3 million retail customers in Arkansas, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Ohio, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, and West Virginia.
AEP operates through five operating segments:
Vertically Integrated Utilities: Generation, transmission and distribution of electricity for sale to retail and wholesale customers through assets owned and operated by AEGCo, APCo, I&M, KGPCo, KPCo, PSO, SWEPCo, and WPCo;
Transmission and Distribution Utilities: Transmission and distribution of electricity for sale to retail and wholesale customers through assets owned and operated by OPCo, TCC, and TNC;
Generation & Marketing: Nonregulated generation in ERCOT and PJM and marketing, risk management, and retail activities in ERCOT, PJM and MISO;
AEP Transmission Holdco: Development, construction and operation of transmission facilities through investments in wholly-owned transmission only subsidiaries and transmission only joint ventures. These investments have PUCT-approved or FERC-approved returns on equity; and
AEP River Operations: Commercial barging operations that transport liquids, coal and dry bulk commodities on the Ohio, Illinois and lower Mississippi Rivers.
After experiencing a revenue dip in 2012 due to Ohio customers switching to alternative power providers, a weather-related decrease in power demand, in 2013 the company’s revenues increased by 3% due to increase revenue from AEP Transmission Holdco segment due to an increase in investments by their wholly-owned transmission subsidiaries and ETT. Transmission revenues increased $46 million thanks to higher transmission revenues from Ohio customers who switched to alternative CRES providers, an and overall increase in weather-related usage in eastern and western regions.
After experiencing a net income dip in 2012 due to lower revenues and an increase in interest expenses, in 2013 the company’s net income grew by 18% due to higher revenues and lower interest expenses.
In 2013 AEP’s operating cash inflow increased to $4.11 billion (from $3.80 billion in 2012) due to higher net income and a change in the working capital.
AEP has scaled back its unregulated non-retail operations in order to focus on its more fiscally reliable regulated businesses. The firm has also sold its independent power production operations and its European trading operations, but it continues to participate in wholesale energy transactions in regions of the US where it owns assets.
The company has established joint ventures with other electric utility companies to develop, build, and own transmission assets that seek to improve reliability and market efficiency and provide transmission access to remote generation sources in North America. For instance, Transource Energy, LLC (Transource) is a joint venture between AEPTHC (86.5%) and Great Plains Energy (13.5%).
Although only a small percentage of its power generation comes from renewables (such as wind and hydro), the company is investing heavily in wind power to ramp up its clean energy sources in response to carbon reduction legislation in the states it serves. Seeking to run cleaner, more efficient power plants to comply with regulatory clean air and water standards, AEP has also earmarked $1.2 billion through 2020 for further upgrades of its coal-fired generating plants.
In 2014 AEP Ohio filed with the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio an expanded purchase power agreement designed to provide customers with more stable electricity prices during periods of market volatility while continuing the economic viability of Ohio’s power generation.
In 2013 the company received the regulatory go-ahead to separate its AEP Ohio-owned generation assets from its Ohio distribution and transmission operations and complete transfer of that generation to AEP’s competitive generation company (AEP Generation Resources) and regulated affiliates Appalachian Power and Kentucky Power.