COLUMBUS, Ohio, April 23, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- American Electric Power (NYSE: AEP) continues to deliver shareholder value and is well-positioned to support an earnings growth rate of 4 percent to 6 percent, according to Nicholas K. Akins, AEP's president and chief executive officer. Akins addressed shareholders at the company's annual meeting today in Columbus, Ohio.
Akins announced that AEP's Board of Directors declared the company's 412th consecutive quarterly common stock dividend and increased the dividend by two cents per quarter to 49 cents per share. This represents a 4.3 percent increase in the dividend from the previous 47 cents per share. AEP has paid a cash dividend on its common stock every quarter since July 1910.
"The recent performance of our stock, coupled with an increase in our dividend and the target we announced in February to increase our dividend payout ratio, demonstrate our commitment to ensuring that AEP remains a solid investment for our shareholders," Akins said. "We have continued to achieve strong financial results by controlling costs and executing on our strategy to successfully manage the rate recovery process in our regulated states and invest in opportunities for growth including our transmission and competitive businesses."
AEP will increase its capital investments to approximately $3.6 billion in 2013, from $3.1 billion in 2012, as the company continues to invest in the development and operation of transmission assets and transitions its generating fleet to comply with new environmental regulations and further diversify its fuel mix.
In 2012, AEP brought nearly 1,200 megawatts of new, efficient generation on line, including a combined-cycle natural gas plant in Dresden, Ohio, and the John W. Turk Jr. Power Plant in Arkansas, which is the first coal-fueled power plant in the United States to use advanced ultra-supercritical technology.
"The Turk Plant is exceeding our expectations for operational performance. The plant's heat rate is more than 10 percent better than traditional supercritical coal units, which means it uses less fuel and creates fewer emissions to generate the same amount of power. AEP is proud to have pioneered this technology for the benefit of our customers, the economy and the environment," Akins said.
Akins pointed to the resolved regulatory uncertainty in Ohio and the fact that AEP is moving forward with the separation of its generation assets from its wires business to support a fully competitive electricity market in Ohio.
"After the transition to full competition in Ohio is completed in 2015, about 86 percent of AEP's assets will remain regulated and will support our goal of achieving earnings-per-share growth of 4 to 6 percent," Akins said. "We have a solid foundation for success in competitive retail markets following our 2012 acquisition of BlueStar Energy Solutions, which now operates as AEP Energy."
In business items at the annual shareholders meeting, AEP shareholders elected 14 directors. Directors re-elected to the board are: Nicholas K. Akins, 52, of Dublin, Ohio; David J. Anderson, 63, of Morristown, N.J.; Ralph D. Crosby Jr., 65, of McLean, Va.; Linda A. Goodspeed, 51, of Memphis, Tenn.; Thomas E. Hoaglin, 63, of Columbus, Ohio; Sandra Beach Lin, 55, of Flower Mound, Texas; Michael G. Morris, 66, of Northville, Mich.; Richard C. Notebaert, 66, of Chicago; Lionel L. Nowell III, 58, of Cos Cob, Conn.; Stephen S. Rasmussen, 60, of Columbus, Ohio; Oliver G. Richard III, 60, Lake Charles, La.; Richard L. Sandor, 71, of Chicago; Sara Martinez Tucker, 58, of San Francisco; and John F. Turner, 71, of Moose, Wyo.
Approximately 95 percent of shares voted indicated support for AEP's executive officer compensation program.
Approximately 98 percent of shares voted ratified the firm of Deloitte & Touche LLP as AEP's independent public accounting firm for 2013.
Only 11 percent of shares voted in favor of a shareholder proposal that would require additional disclosure of AEP's lobbying expenditures. The proposal failed.
American Electric Power is one of the largest electric utilities in the United States, delivering electricity to more than 5.3 million customers in 11 states. AEP ranks among the nation's largest generators of electricity, owning nearly 38,000 megawatts of generating capacity in the U.S. AEP also owns the nation's largest electricity transmission system, a 40,000-mile network that includes more 765-kilovolt extra-high voltage transmission lines than all other U.S. transmission systems combined. AEP's transmission system directly or indirectly serves about 10 percent of the electricity demand in the Eastern Interconnection, the interconnected transmission system that covers 38 eastern and central U.S. states and eastern Canada, and approximately 11 percent of the electricity demand in ERCOT, the transmission system that covers much of Texas. 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.
SOURCE American Electric Power