American Electric Power is one of the largest investor owned utility companies in the United States, providing energy for customers in Texas, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, Virginia, West Virginia, Tennessee, Kentucky, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Louisiana.
The news that AEP is investing $15 Billion over the next 3 years in renewable energy deployment as well as infrastructure upgrades comes as a bit of a surprise given their history with renewable energy deployment. In 2015, AEP supported the Indiana utility bill, HB 1320, that would have greatly increased the cost and subsequently greatly decreased the benefit customers receive from installing distributed solar arrays in an attempt to decrease the incentive to do so. The utility giant currently owns and operates nearly 31,000 MW of power generation, approximately 60% of which is coal (AEP). The 8,000 MW of new renewable power will be added in response to the 7,200 MW of coal-fired power that has been dismantled since 2011. The 8,000 MW of renewable power will represent roughly 20% of all AEP’s generating capacity and will be accompanied by 3,000 MW of power from gas. The company plans to install 6,300 MW of wind power and 3,400 MW of solar by 2034 (Utility Dive). The company has said recently that they have a renewed commitment to diversifying their energy generation fleet to include a well balanced arsenal of wind, solar, pumped hydro, nuclear, gas and an ever decreasing percentage of coal. AEP has decreased their carbon dioxide emissions by nearly 40% since 2000 levels according to a report on Utility Dive. It seems as though the introduction of 8,000 MW of renewable power generation can be seen as a symbol of an ongoing commitment to lower carbon emissions and hopefully, it won’t end there.