COLUMBUS, Ohio, April 26, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- American Electric Power (NYSE: AEP) continues to deliver value to its customers and shareholders by investing in the company's core, regulated operations, according to Nicholas K. Akins, AEP's chairman, president and chief executive officer. Akins addressed shareholders at the company's annual meeting today in Columbus, Ohio.
"The investments we're making to build a smarter grid, improve service to our customers and create a balanced energy mix – coupled with our focus on controlling costs and improving the efficiency of our operations – will allow AEP to continue achieving solid financial results. Over the past five years, AEP has provided a total shareholder return of 101 percent, exceeding the 61 percent total return for the S&P 500 Electric Utilities Index," Akins said.
"We increased our operating earnings per share by 7.6 percent in 2015 and were pleased to reward our shareholders with a dividend increase of nearly 6 percent last year. We have significant opportunities to continue enhancing shareholder value as we make strategic investments to deploy new technologies, generate cleaner energy and deliver energy solutions to meet our customers' needs."
AEP plans to invest $5 billion every year for the next three years primarily in its core operations, including its transmission business – which has grown to contribute 39 cents per share to earnings in 2015, an increase of 26 percent from 2014. AEP's Transmission Holding Co. grew by $1 billion in 2015 to a total of $3.9 billion in net plant.
AEP continues to diversify its generation fleet following the retirement of 5,600 megawatts of coal-fueled generation in 2015 and 1,000 megawatts in 2016. The company is refueling 752 megawatts of generation with natural gas and plans to nearly triple its renewable energy portfolio in the next two decades. In 2015, AEP completed its first solar power plant near Marion, Indiana, to make solar energy universally available to customers, and the company is building four more solar plants in Indiana, Michigan and Ohio. AEP has cut its carbon dioxide emissions 39 percent from 2000 levels and will continue to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from its power plants as the company transitions to more renewables and natural gas.
Akins attributed AEP's success to the talent and commitment of the company's 17,600 employees. "I'm proud of the work of our employees, who have focused on financial discipline and process improvements while working to ensure AEP is a safe, high-performing, innovative and inclusive workplace. They have embraced our strategy to build upon our reputation as our customers' trusted energy advisor, develop the solutions and technologies our customers want, and ensure we can continue to produce and deliver the reliable and cleaner power that meets the expectations of our customers and regulators."
In business items at the annual shareholders meeting, AEP shareholders elected 12 directors. Directors re-elected to the board are: Nicholas K. Akins, 55, of Dublin, Ohio; David J. Anderson, 66, of Greenwich, Conn.; J. Barnie Beasley Jr., 64, of Sylvania, Ga.; Ralph D. Crosby Jr., 68, of McLean, Va.; Linda A. Goodspeed, 54, of Crestview, Fla.; Thomas E. Hoaglin, 66, of Columbus, Ohio; Sandra Beach Lin, 58, of Flower Mound, Texas; Richard C. Notebaert, 68, of Chicago; Lionel L. Nowell III, 61, of Marco Island, Fla.; Stephen S. Rasmussen, 63, of Columbus, Ohio; Oliver G. Richard III, 63, of Lake Charles, La.; and Sara Martinez Tucker, 60, of Dallas.
Approximately 99 percent of shares voted ratified the firm of Deloitte & Touche LLP as AEP's independent public accounting firm for 2016.
Approximately 94 percent of shares voted indicated support for AEP's executive officer compensation program.
American Electric Power is one of the largest electric utilities in the United States, delivering electricity and custom energy solutions to nearly 5.4 million customers in 11 states. AEP owns the nation's largest electricity transmission system, a more than 40,000-mile network that includes more 765-kilovolt extra-high voltage transmission lines than all other U.S. transmission systems combined. AEP also operates 223,000 miles of distribution lines. AEP ranks among the nation's largest generators of electricity, owning approximately 31,000 megawatts of generating capacity in the U.S. AEP's utility units operate as AEP Ohio, AEP Texas, Appalachian Power (in Virginia and West Virginia), AEP Appalachian Power (in Tennessee), Indiana Michigan Power, Kentucky Power, Public Service Company of Oklahoma, and Southwestern Electric Power Company (in Arkansas, Louisiana and east Texas). AEP's headquarters are in Columbus, Ohio.
This report made by American Electric Power and its Registrant Subsidiaries contains forward-looking statements within the meaning of Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934. Although AEP and each of its Registrant Subsidiaries believe that their expectations are based on reasonable assumptions, any such statements may be influenced by factors that could cause actual outcomes and results to be materially different from those projected. Among the factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from those in the forward-looking statements are: the economic climate, growth or contraction within and changes in market demand and demographic patterns in AEP's service territory; inflationary or deflationary interest rate trends; volatility in the financial markets, particularly developments affecting the availability of capital on reasonable terms and developments impairing AEP's ability to finance new capital projects and refinance existing debt at attractive rates; the availability and cost of funds to finance working capital and capital needs, particularly during periods when the time lag between incurring costs and recovery is long and the costs are material; electric load, customer growth and the impact of competition, including competition for retail customers; weather conditions, including storms and drought conditions, and AEP's ability to recover significant storm restoration costs; the costs of, and transportation for, fuels and the creditworthiness and performance of fuel suppliers and transporters; availability of necessary generating capacity and the performance of AEP's generating plants; AEP's ability to recover fuel and other energy costs through regulated or competitive electric rates; AEP's ability to build transmission lines and facilities (including the ability to obtain any necessary regulatory approvals and permits) when needed at acceptable prices and terms and to recover those costs; new legislation, litigation and government regulation, including oversight of nuclear generation, energy commodity trading and new or heightened requirements for reduced emissions of sulfur, nitrogen, mercury, carbon, soot or particulate matter and other substances, or additional regulation of fly ash and similar combustion products that could impact the continued operation, cost recovery, and/or profitability of AEP's generation plants and related assets; evolving public perception of the risks associated with fuels used before, during and after the generation of electricity, including nuclear fuel; a reduction in the federal statutory tax rate that could result in an accelerated return of deferred federal income taxes to customers; timing and resolution of pending and future rate cases, negotiations and other regulatory decisions, including rate or other recovery of new investments in generation, distribution and transmission service and environmental compliance; resolution of litigation; AEP's ability to constrain operation and maintenance costs; AEP's ability to develop and execute a strategy based on a view regarding prices of electricity and other energy-related commodities; prices and demand for power that AEP generates and sells at wholesale; changes in technology, particularly with respect to new, developing, alternative or distributed sources of generation; AEP's ability to recover through rates or market prices any remaining unrecovered investment in generating units that may be retired before the end of their previously projected useful lives; volatility and changes in markets for capacity and electricity, coal, and other energy-related commodities, particularly changes in the price of natural gas and capacity auction returns; changes in utility regulation and the allocation of costs within regional transmission organizations, including ERCOT, PJM and SPP; the transition to market for generation in Ohio, including the implementation of ESPs and AEP's ability to recover investments in its Ohio generation assets; AEP's ability to successfully and profitably manage its separate competitive generation assets; changes in the creditworthiness of the counterparties with whom AEP has contractual arrangements, including participants in the energy trading market; actions of rating agencies, including changes in the ratings of AEP debt; the impact of volatility in the capital markets on the value of the investments held by AEP's pension, other postretirement benefit plans, captive insurance entity and nuclear decommissioning trust and the impact of such volatility on future funding requirements; accounting pronouncements periodically issued by accounting standard-setting bodies; and other risks and unforeseen events, including wars, the effects of terrorism (including increased security costs), embargoes, cyber security threats and other catastrophic events.
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SOURCE American Electric Power