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 more than 40,000 miles. It also has 223,000 miles of distribution lines. Its electric utilities have 5.4 million customers in 11 states and have about 31,000 MW of largely coal-fired generating capacity. AEP is a top wholesale energy company; it markets electricity in the US. To raise cash, in 2015 the company sold its commercial barging operations that transported liquids, coal, and dry bulk commodities on the Ohio, Illinois, and lower Mississippi Rivers.
The company's electric utility operating companies provide generation, transmission, and distribution services to 5.4 million retail customers in Arkansas, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Ohio, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, and West Virginia.
AEP operates through four operating segments:
Vertically Integrated Utilities (55% of 2015 revenues): 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 (27%): Transmission and distribution of electricity for sale to retail and wholesale customers through assets owned and operated by OPCo, TCC, and TNC.
Generation & Marketing (17%): Nonregulated generation in ERCOT and PJM and marketing, risk management, and retail activities in ERCOT, PJM and MISO.
AEP Transmission Holdco (1%): 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.
It had a fifth segment AEP River Operations: Commercial barging operations that transport liquids, coal, and dry bulk commodities on the Ohio, Illinois, and lower Mississippi Rivers. But in 2015 the company sold AEP River Operations LLC for $491 million to American Commercial Lines.
Sales and Marketing
The company sells power from its generation facilities into the spot market and other competitive power markets on a contractual basis. It also enters into contracts to purchase and sell electricity, natural gas, emission allowances and coal as part of its power marketing and energy trading operations.
AEP uses overhead circuit miles of transmission and distribution lines to supply its product.
In 2015 the company's net revenues decreased by 3% due to discontinued operations (AEP River Operations).
AEP's net income increased by 25% due to income from discontinued operations.
In 2015 cash from operating activities grew by 3% as the result of a rise in net income, an increase in depreciation and amortization and changes in accounts receivable (net), and other current liabilities.
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’s business plan calls for extensive investment in capital improvements and additions, including the installation of environmental upgrades and retrofits, construction of additional transmission facilities, modernizing existing infrastructure as well as other initiatives.
To raise cash, in 2017 AEP sold four power plants to Lightstone Generation LLC (a joint venture of Blackstone and an affiliate of ArcLight Capital Partners) for $2.1 billion.
AEP 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. (I&M has announced plans to build and operate five solar generation facilities, adding another emission-free source of power to it's generation portfolio, which already includes nuclear, wind, and hydro).
AEP retired several coal-fired generation plants and units of plants during 2015.
In 2015, eight electric utilities and energy companies announced an initiative to provide improved responses to major events affecting the electric transmission grid by giving transmission-owning entities access to domestically warehoused long lead-time critical equipment. Affiliates of American Electric Power, Berkshire Hathaway Energy, Duke Energy, Edison International, Ever source Energy, Exelon, Great Plains Energy, and Southern Company have signed a memorandum of understanding to pursue development of Grid Assurance, a limited liability company that expects to offer subscribers cost-effective solutions for enhancing grid resiliency and protecting customers from prolonged transmission outages.
In 2014 AEP Ohio filed with the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio an expand its purchase power agreement in order to provide customers with more stable electricity prices during periods of market volatility.