Ohio-based American Electric Power has been among the more vocal critics of EPA power plant regulations. But, as the National Journal reports, investors got a different story last week.

“Once you put capital money to work, jobs are created,” American Electric Power CEO Michael Morris said during an investors’ conference call last week.

Morris was referring mainly to forthcoming Environmental Protection Agency standards that will slash mercury and other toxic air pollution from coal-fired power plants. EPA plans to finalize those rules on Dec. 16. Morris didn’t elaborate about what kinds of jobs, but AEP spokesman Pat Hemlepp said jobs will be created to install new technology for coal-fired power plants to enable the plant to burn coal more cleanly and to construct new, cleaner power plants using such fuels as natural gas.

The rest of the article, which is available to subscribers only, can be found here.

This isn’t the first time AEP’s statements to investors about EPA rules have diverged from what it says publicly. Again via the National Journal, here’s what Morris had to say after issuing dire warnings that new EPA rules would force the utility to shut down coal plants:

“On balance, we think that [the plant closures] is the appropriate way to go,” Morris said of the closures. “Not only to treat our customers, but also to treat our shareholders, near and long term, with that small amount of the fleet going off-line.”

“As you know, those are high-cost plants and dispatch infrequently,” Morris said. He went on to add that most of them didn’t run at all in 2009 because natural-gas prices were so low.

At the time, EPA administrator Lisa Jackson called AEP’s public statements “misleading at best, scare tactics at worst.”

Photo by Mark Plummer via Creative Commons

Ken Paulman

Ken is the director of the Energy News Network at Fresh Energy and is a founding editor of both Midwest Energy News and Southeast Energy News. Prior to joining Fresh Energy, he was the managing editor for online news at Minnesota Public Radio. He started his journalism career in 2002 as a copy editor for the Duluth News Tribune before spending five years at the Spokesman-Review in Spokane, Washington, where he worked as a copy editor, online producer, features editor and night city editor. A Nebraska native, Ken has a bachelor's degree from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and a master's degree from the University of Oregon. He is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists and Investigative Reporters and Editors.