American Electric Power

InfluenceMap Score
D
Performance Band
45%
Organisation Score
50%
Relationship Score
Sector:
Utilities
Head​quarters:
Columbus, United States
Brands and Associated Companies:
Southwestern Electric Power Company, Appalachian Power, AEP, Indiana Michigan Power
Official Web Site:

Climate Lobbying Overview: American Electric Power (AEP) is generally lobbying against US policy on climate change. The utility offers some top-line support for climate action, but in recent years has lobbied negatively on specific climate policies to transition the energy mix.

Top-line Messaging on Climate Policy: AEP appears to have minimal and mixed top-line messaging on climate policy. In its March 2021 Climate Impact Analysis report, AEP states its long-standing support for a cost-effective domestic climate policy that covers all sectors. In the same report, AEP supports emissions reductions but it is unclear if the company is supporting reductions in line with IPCC recommendations. AEP does not appear to have disclosed a position on the UN Climate Treaty in recent years, mentioning the goals of the Paris Agreement only in its 2021 Climate Impact Analysis report without stating a clear position. During the Biden administration infrastructure negotiations in July 2021, AEP signed an open letter to Congress advocating for urgent action to combat climate change.

Engagement with Climate-Related Policy: AEP has mixed engagement with climate legislation and regulation. In 2019, a spokesperson for AEP noted a preference for emissions trading over a carbon tax. AEP appears to have maintained this position as of October 2021, as evident in its 2020 CDP response and its March 2021 Climate Impact Analysis report, where it states support for cap-and-trade and opposition to a carbon tax. In that report, AEP also advocates for exempting all stationary sources from Clean Air Act GHG emissions standards.

While previous communications in 2016 commend the benefits of early energy efficiency standards, AEP’s 2020 Corporate Accountability report cautions against new, more stringent energy efficiency standards, such as new standards for lighting and other appliances. The utility has repeatedly expressed concerns in recent CDP responses around the adverse impacts of energy efficiency legislation. However, in August 2021, the Cincinnati Enquirer reported on AEP’s support for Ohio House Bill 389 toward incentivizing utilities to develop energy efficiency programs.

In June 2021, AEP expressed support for the proposed federal Clean Energy Future through Innovation Act, which establishes a target of reducing carbon dioxide emissions by 80% by 2050. In March 2021, AEP directly advocated for pro-wind and solar policy in Ohio by opposing Senate Bill 52, which included provisions allowing local governments to veto projects. However, the utility actively opposed the Obama-era Clean Power Plan (CPP) through 2018, including through legal action in 2017. AEP advocated for the repeal of the CPP in 2018 and, shortly after, supported its replacement with the Trump administration’s Affordable Clean Energy rule.

Positioning on Energy Transition: AEP has engaged with negative positions on the energy transition, particularly on the Biden administration infrastructure bills. In July 2021, the Charleston Gazette Mail reported on AEP’s support for a federal clean energy standard that includes coal and fossil gas. Additionally, CEO Nick Atkins appeared to advocate for federal tax incentives for coal-fired generation in the company’s July 2021 earnings call. In September 2021, the New York Times reported on Akin’s opposition to the proposed Clean Electricity Performance Program (CEPP) and specifically noted his private engagements with Senator Manchin, chairman of the US Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, to weaken the program by removing penalties and slowing the pace of the transition. That same month, in advance of the CEPP’s mark-up in the House Energy and Commerce Committee, AEP addressed a letter to the committee in which it stated that the program as written is “forcing clean energy development too rapidly.” In October 2021, as negotiations continued in the buildup to COP26, E&E News reported on a private meeting that Senator Manchin held with AEP and five other utilities to discuss the CEPP and energy transition, although the actual contents of the meeting remain unclear.

AEP offers mixed support for clean energy targets at the federal and state level. In its 2021 Sustainability Report, the company suggests that President Biden’s goal of decarbonizing the power sector by 2035 is “overly optimistic.” In 2019, American Electric Power backed legislation in Ohio to bail out struggling coal plants and boost nuclear energy while rolling back the state’s energy efficiency and renewable energy targets. However, AEP demonstrates clear support for the electrification of transport, including through specific policies such as Ohio’s 2020 tax credit for the purchase of electric vehicles and charging stations.

Industry Association Governance: AEP publishes a list of its industry association memberships, but has not published a review of its alignment with these groups or disclosed any details of its attempts to influence their positions. The utility left the American Legislative Exchange Council in 2016 and America’s Power in 2019, two organizations that are highly oppositional to progressive climate policy. However, it remains a member of the National Association of Manufacturers and US Chamber of Commerce, both of which share a history of strategic opposition to climate policy. It is also a member of Business Roundtable, which demonstrates mixed positions on US climate policy.

QUERIES
DATA SOURCES
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Strength of Relationship
STRONG
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
WEAK
 
27%
 
27%
 
92%
 
92%
 
53%
 
53%
 
27%
 
27%
 
51%
 
51%
 
41%
 
41%

How to Read our Relationship Score Map

In this section, we depict graphically the relationships the corporation has with trade associations, federations, advocacy groups and other third parties who may be acting on their behalf to influence climate change policy. Each of the columns above represents one relationship the corporation appears to have with such a third party. In these columns, the top, dark section represents the strength of the relationship the corporation has with the influencer. For example if a corporation's senior executive also held a key role in the trade association, we would deem this to be a strong relationship and it would be on the far left of the chart above, with the weaker ones to the right. Click on these grey shaded upper sections for details of these relationships. The middle section contains a link to the organization score details of the influencer concerned, so you can see the details of its climate change policy influence. Click on the middle sections for for details of the trade associations. The lower section contains the organization score of that influencer, the lower the more negatively it is influencing climate policy.