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©2015 E&E Publishing, LLC
Republished with permission
By Hannah Northey
American Electric Power Co. Inc., one of the nation’s largest utilities, is leaving the conservative American Legislative Exchange Council and shifting its resources toward working with states implementing the Obama administration’s landmark climate rule.
“AEP will not be renewing its ALEC membership in 2016,” Melissa McHenry, a spokeswoman for AEP, said in an email. “We reviewed our memberships and decided to reallocate resources to other areas of focus including working directly with the states and other stakeholder groups on issues like the Clean Power Plan.”
ALEC acts as a clearinghouse for free-market legislation and has had a hand in crafting bills that could make it more difficult for states to implement the Clean Power Plan.
Yet Ohio-based AEP, which operates in 11 states, has been complimentary of the U.S. EPA climate rule, with the company’s President and CEO Nick Akins calling it “a great investment opportunity” for the company during an interview at the Edison Electric Institute’s annual financial conference in Hollywood, Fla., last month (EnergyWire, Nov. 17).
Of AEP’s 32,000 megawatts of generation capacity, about 54 percent is coal-fired, followed by natural gas at 26 percent, then renewables, nuclear and efficiency. In 2020, AEP will still look to coal for 49 percent of its capacity.
In deciding to leave ALEC, the utility cited more limited financial and human resources and an evolving generation mix. And McHenry in an email pointed out the utility’s dedication to curbing emissions from its fleet, including adding large-scale solar and investing in transmission to support renewables.
“We were a founding member of the Chicago Climate Exchange and supported the Waxman-Markey climate legislation. We are currently adding large-scale solar resources to our portfolio, and also are investing heavily in transmission to support renewable integration,” McHenry said. “By 2017, AEP will have cut carbon dioxide emissions from our power plants by more than 25 percent from 2005 levels, and we will achieve additional reductions in the years ahead as our generation mix continues to change.”
AEP joins companies like Royal Dutch Shell PLC in dropping their membership in ALEC. Others have included BP PLC, Google Inc., Facebook Inc. and Yahoo Inc. (Greenwire, Aug. 7).
ALEC has also been scrapping with green groups, which have pushed companies to drop their membership with the conservative group.
Earlier this year, ALEC responded with a cease-and-desist letter threatening legal action against groups including the Sierra Club if they did not stop rhetorically linking ALEC to climate “denial” (E&ENews PM, April 6).