American Electric Power

InfluenceMap Score
D
Performance Band
47%
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 opposing U.S. climate, especially in its engagements on federal legislation and Ohio state energy policies. 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 engagement with climate policy, 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 provisions in the Biden administration reconciliation bill and continues to lobby for the 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 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. During the Biden administration infrastructure negotiations in July 2021, AEP signed an open letter to Congress advocating for urgent action to combat climate change. 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 2021 CDP response and its March 2021 Climate Impact Analysis report. In that same report, AEP also advocates for exempting all stationary sources from Clean Air Act GHG emissions standards. The utility has opposed federal GHG emissions standards, taking legal action in 2017 to oppose the Obama-era Clean Power Plan (CPP) and supporting its replacement with the Trump administration’s Affordable Clean Energy rule in October 2018. More recently, 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; however, this GHG emissions reduction target is not in line with the pace set by the U.S. Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) of 50-52% by 2030. As reported by Energy News Network in November 2021, the company also stated support for the proposed federal Clean Energy Innovation and Deployment of 2021, which includes a zero-emissions electricity standard to achieve net-zero emissions between 2030 and 2050.

The utility has 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. However, in September 2021, subsidiary AEP Ohio testified before the Ohio House Public Utilities Committee in support of House Bill 389, a piece of legislation on incentivizing utilities to develop energy efficiency programs.

Positioning on Energy Transition: AEP demonstrates mostly negative positions on transitioning the energy transition, particularly in recent federal negotiations. In September 2021, the New York Times reported on CEO Nick Akin’s opposition to the proposed Clean Electricity Performance Program (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.” In October 2021, 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; the actual contents of the meeting remain unclear. Previously, in July 2021, the Charleston Gazette Mail reported on AEP’s support for a federal clean energy standard that includes coal and fossil gas. In the same month, Akins 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.” The company also appears to be consistently opposing the phase out of coal in Ohio. In testimonies submitted to hearings on Senate Bill 117 in June 2021 and on companion legislation House Bill 351 in October 2021, AEP Ohio 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 March 2021, the company testified before the Ohio Senate Transportation Committee in support of amendments in the state transportation budget to encourage electric vehicle deployment. AEP also stated support for state tax credits toward alternative fuel and electric vehicles in its May 2020 Corporate Accountability Report.

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; in recent engagements, Edison Electric has offered mixed support for climate provisions in the reconciliation bill.

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Strength of Relationship
STRONG
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
WEAK
 
29%
 
29%
 
92%
 
92%
 
28%
 
28%
 
52%
 
52%
 
58%
 
58%
 
42%
 
42%

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.