The work we do to keep the lights on, minimize our impacts to the environment, and improve the quality of life in our communities is second nature to us. We don’t do it for awards; we do it to make a difference. It is gratifying when our efforts are recognized for adding value and having positive impact.
We are proud of the diversity in our work force and of the diverse opportunities and benefits we offer to our employees. We are also proud of our employees who are innovative and have exceptional technical expertise. These attributes of our culture were recognized in different ways during 2013.
AEP was recognized as one of the nation’s top 100 “military-friendly” employers by G.I. Jobs Magazine in 2014. This year’s honorees were selected from among more than 5,000 employers with annual revenues of at least $500 million. Companies were selected based on their assets dedicated to military hiring, the strength of their recruiting programs, and their policies regarding National Guard and reserve service, among other criteria. AEP has a generous military leave policy. Approximately 10 percent of AEP employees have served in the military.
Scott Smith, senior vice president for transmission strategy and business operations at AEP, shared his personal experience with Intelligent Utility, as well as AEP’s strategy to help returning veterans transition into utility jobs. Read his story - http://www.intelligentutility.com/article/13/09/aep-reaches-out-veteran-community
A coalition of more than 130 employers, including AEP, set a goal to hire 100,000 U.S. military veterans by 2020. The coalition surpassed that goal by the end of 2013, hiring a total of 117,437 military veterans – seven years early. The 131 companies now involved have revised their pledge to hire 200,000 veterans by 2020.
AEP was recognized for its commitment to gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (GLBT) workplace equality by the Human Rights Campaign Foundation. AEP received a score of 80 out of 100 on the Foundation’s 2014 Corporate Equality Index, a national benchmarking survey and report on corporate policies, benefits and practices for members of the GLBT community. We support our GLBT community by offering benefits to same-sex couples and families.
For the seventh consecutive year, AEP was named one of the most adoption-friendly workplaces by the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption in 2013. The rankings are based on the maximum amount of financial reimbursement and paid leave per adoption. We also provide families with adoption assistance for eligible adoption-related expenses and provide up to 40 hours of paid leave for new adoptive parents. AEP has assisted its employees with 72 adoptions since 2007.
AEP River Operations’ Chesterfield, Mo., office was recognized as one of The St. Louis Post-Dispatch Top Workplaces in 2013. The Top Workplaces are determined solely on employee feedback. AEP’s Chesterfield office had a response rate of 92 percent. These confidential surveys are a great way for employers to gauge how their employees feel about their work environment. We are honored to have been selected for this award, especially by our own employees.
Recognition for Technical Work
Many of our employees routinely engage in technical work and research that results in breakthroughs that benefit both AEP and our industry. Each year, the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) recognizes individuals, work teams, companies and industry collaborators for this work. AEP received several EPRI Technology Transfer Awards in 2013 for a variety of projects:
- AEP led one of the first major collaborations between the automotive and utility industries on modern plug-in vehicle technology. Our work demonstrated how to incorporate original equipment manufacturer-engineered plug-in hybrid prototype vehicles into everyday fleet and company operations.
- AEP was involved in a project to develop a communication interface specification that makes it easier to deploy demand response programs for consumers. It led the Consumer Electronics Association to release a new standard that enables off-the-shelf consumer products, such as water heaters, thermostats and dryers, to be compatible with any utility demand response system. Similar to a USB port on a computer, the new standard allows the user to plug in a communication module enabling easier access to demand response programs. The communication module can easily be changed out as technology changes, or when consumers move, they can take it with them to be served by a new utility.
- By understanding the level of investment, the cost to operate and maintain, the land needed, and potential savings from energy generated, we can then determine if a distributed solar generation project is the best solution for our customers. We used EPRI’s Solar Power Fact Book to gather data and compile it into a single manual that uses well-documented assumptions, enabling us to better serve our customers who are interested in these technologies.
- AEP was recognized for deploying equipment, collecting data, conducting analyses and ultimately creating case studies of our gridSMART® initiatives over four years.
- We initiated a project to evaluate the likelihood of fly ash to statically liquefy to support appropriate design and loading of ash ponds, especially during pond closure. This will help us to understand the safest way to close these ponds as regulations change.
- A collaboration between AEP and other electric utilities on a research project about water withdrawal and consumption for electric power generation identified improvements we can make to be more efficient in our use of water. The project looked at how our industry compares to water use in other industries and how conservation options can be used to reduce consumption. We presented the findings to the Texas House of Representatives Water Resources Committee to inform the debate on how to achieve sustainable water resources in Texas.
- AEP collaborated with other utilities to investigate the root cause of severe corrosion occurring in flue gas desulfurization (FGD) systems installed in U.S. coal-fueled power plants and to develop new inspection and mitigation strategies. FGDs are installed on several AEP power plants to control emissions.