American Electric Power

InfluenceMap Score
D
Performance Band
46%
Organisation Score
47%
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 opposing U.S. federal and state climate policy. The utility offers some top-line support for climate action, but in recent years has lobbied against specific climate policies to transition the energy mix. AEP is a member of several industry associations with highly negative climate policy engagement, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Manufacturers. AEP also belongs to the Edison Electric Institute, which has offered mixed support for climate proposals in the federal reconciliation bills and continues to promote a long-term role for fossil gas.

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 longstanding 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.

Engagement with Climate-Related Policy: AEP appears to engage with mostly negative positions on climate policy. AEP has maintained a preference for emissions trading over a carbon tax, as emphasized in its March 2021 Climate Impact Analysis report. The utility has also repeatedly expressed concerns in recent CDP responses around the adverse impacts of energy efficiency legislation and cautions against new, more stringent energy efficiency standards in its 2020 Corporate Accountability report. AEP also demonstrates unsupportive positions on GHG emissions standards: in its 2021 climate report, the company advocates for exempting all stationary sources from Clean Air Act standards; more recently, as reported by E&E News in March 2022, AEP appeared to take a neutral position on the Supreme Court decision on West Virginia v. EPA. Regarding federal level legislation, however, AEP has expressed support for the Build Back Better Act's clean energy tax credits, including in a January 2022 S&P Global interview and in a February 2022 E&E News article. AEP CEO Nick Akins also supported the tax credits while speaking to President Biden at a February 2022 utility roundtable to discuss the administration's Build Back Better agenda.

AEP demonstrates mixed engagement on state-level climate policy. In Ohio, AEP subsidiaries submitted written testimony in March 2022 and May 2022 against House Bill 450 toward developing community solar in the state. However, in September 2021, subsidiary AEP Ohio testified before the Ohio House Public Utilities Committee in support of House Bill 389, legislation to incentivize utilities to develop energy efficiency programs.

Positioning on Energy Transition: AEP demonstrates mostly negative positions on the energy transition, particularly in recent federal negotiations. Although AEP appeared to support the climate provisions in the Inflation Reduction Act, as reported by E&E News in August 2022, the company has strongly opposed the Clean Electricity Performance Program (CEPP), which was eventually cut from the Build Back Better Act. The New York Times reported in September 2021 on CEO Nick Akin’s opposition to the CEPP and specifically noted his private engagements with Senator Manchin; 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.” Previously, in July 2021, the Charleston Gazette Mail reported on AEP’s support for a federal clean energy standard that included coal and fossil gas. In the same month, Akins also appeared to advocate for federal tax incentives for coal-fired generation in the company’s July 2021 earnings call.

AEP also appears to offer negative positions on decarbonization targets at the federal and state level. In April 2021, the New York Times recorded CEO Akins’ negative position on President Biden’s target to decarbonize the power sector, in which he suggested that rapid decarbonization could “jeopardize the reliability of the grid.” On the state level, AEP subsidiaries have engaged to protect the long-term role of fossil fuels. In Indiana, subsidiary Indiana Michigan Power reportedly supported the state’s gas ban preemption law in May 2021. In Ohio, subsidiary AEP Ohio submitted testimony on Senate Bill 117 in June 2021 and companion legislation House Bill 351 in October 2021, in which the company argued against removing the coal plant subsidies established by 2019’s House Bill 6. In August 2020, S&P Global reported that CEO Nick Akins had confirmed the company’s monetary contributions to Empowering Ohio’s Economy, an organization reportedly linked to the corruption scheme which helped to pass HB 6 into law in July 2019.

AEP demonstrates clear support for the electrification of transport on the state and federal level. In January 2022, the company submitted guidance on how to use Bipartisan Infrastructure Law funding toward electric vehicle deployment. In Ohio, subsidiary AEP Ohio testified in support of electric vehicle legislation in April 2022 and March 2021.

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

InfluenceMap collects and assesses evidence of corporate climate policy engagement on a weekly basis, depending on the availability of information from each specific data source (for more information see our methodology). While this analysis flows through to the company’s scores each week, the summary above is updated periodically. This summary was last updated in Q3 2022.

QUERIES
DATA SOURCES
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Strength of Relationship
STRONG
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
WEAK
 
91%
 
91%
 
28%
 
28%
 
52%
 
52%
 
29%
 
29%
 
57%
 
57%
 
11%
 
11%
 
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.