History of AEP
On Dec. 20, 1906, a certificate of incorporation was filed in Albany, N.Y. for the American Gas and Electric Company. The company was formed from a utility holding company, Electric Company of America, which was organized in 1899. The company acquired its first utility properties Jan. 2, 1907. These properties provided electric service, gas, water, steam, transit, or ice service in communities in New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois. The company became American Electric Power in 1958, and merged with Central and Southwest Corporation in 2000.
The Early Years: 1906-1921
In its earliest years, AEP – then known as American Gas and Electric Company
(AG&E) - was an assortment of small, struggling utilities scattered across a
number of states, stretching from the Atlantic Ocean to Illinois.
Line crew, South Bend, Indiana, 1910
American Gas and Electric was incorporated in the state of New York on
December 20, 1906, and acquired its first utility properties on January 2, 1907.
These original properties provided electric service, gas, water, steam, transit,
or even ice service in communities in New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania,
West Virginia, Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois. Over the years, many of these
properties were sold. In fact, only five of the communities originally served
by AG&E in 1907 – Marion and Muncie, Indiana; Canton and Bridgeport,
Ohio; and Wheeling, West Virginia – are still part of the AEP System.
AEP’s interconnected power system got its start in 1911, when power plants
in Marion and Muncie were connected by a 33,000 volt line across some 30 miles of
Indiana farmland so they could support each other and improve reliability.
The Windsor Plant, Wheeling, West Virginia
In 1917, AEP’s first “super” power plant began operation on
the Ohio River at Wheeling. Called the Windsor Plant, it was the first major
steam plant built at a considerable distance from its principal load center –
Canton, the largest city that AG&E served in Ohio at the time, which desperately
needed to power its steel mills in support of World War I. Power was delivered to
Canton customers over the nation’s first long-distance 138,000-volt
transmission line. Windsor Plant was also the first major plant built at the
mouth of a coal mine, eliminating the need to haul coal over long distances.
Expansion and realignment: 1922-1940
America was on the move in the 1920s, and electricity was quickly becoming
the engine that powered the journey. During the years 1922-26, AG&E made
a number of major property acquisitions, making this five-year span one of
the greatest expansion periods in its history. It pushed into Michigan in
1922 with the acquisition of Indiana and Michigan Electric.
The Philo Plant, Philo, Ohio
In 1923, AG&E embarked on the simultaneous construction of three very
large generating stations – the Twin Branch plant in northern Indiana,
the Philo Plant in southeastern Ohio, and the Stanton plant in northeastern
Pennsylvania. Each new plant represented a major advance in the art of power
generation. Philo, for example, was the first plant in the world to reheat
steam to do double duty in the process of generating electricity.
In 1924, AG&E purchased control of American Electric Power Company
– no relation to the present – a Philadelphia holding company. In 1925,
AG&E bought Appalachian Power Company, and, in 1926, merged this unit with
other Virginia and southern West Virginia holdings into a new company, which it
called Appalachian Electric Power Company.
In 1928, the Federal Trade Commission launched a comprehensive inquiry into
the entire electric power industry, culminating with the passage of the
Public Utility Holding Company Act (PUHCA) in 1935. Although
Ohio Power workers, Cambridge, Ohio, 1931
PUHCA caused the breakup of other holding companies – and several
of AG&E’s holdings were also divested – AG&E’s so-called Central
System, stretching from Virginia to Michigan, was left intact. Indeed,
it was cited as a model of what an integrated system should be.
AG&E entered the Great Depression in relatively good financial health.
Two weeks following the stock market crash in 1929, AG&E President
George Tidd sent a letter of reassurance to shareholders. The company persevered
and maintained its financial integrity through the period.
The Sporn years: 1941-1961
During the period from 1941-61, after a hiatus during World War II, the AG&E System
kept ahead of the increasing demand for electric energy by building new
power plants, ever bigger and at lower cost, and the new power lines to link
them and deliver their product. During the period, AG&E installed
36 new generating units at 14 locations in five states – with a generating
capacity totaling 6 million kilowatts. In one year, AG&E plants occupied
the top five spots on the list of America’s most efficient generating stations.
At the same time, AG&E managed to plan, engineer, design, and install
11 new generating units totaling over 2 million kilowatts and a 390-mile,
345,000-volt transmission system for the Ohio Valley Electric Cooperative
(OVEC), which had been formed to supply power to the federal government’s
uranium enrichment plant at Piketon, Ohio. The units came on line in 1955
Much of the work during this era was led by Philip Sporn, who joined
AG&E in 1920 and served as its President from 1947 until 1961. An
industry leader with an international reputation, Sporn was, in a sense,
the company’s chief planner, designer, engineer, architect, financial
officer, public relations man, and sales manager.
The company continued to expand, acquiring Indiana Service Corporation
of Fort Wayne in 1948.
Finally, in 1958, American Gas and Electric changed its name, becoming
the American Electric Power that is known today.
More growth: 1961-1975
From 1961 until 1975, AEP was led by Donald C. Cook, a Michigan native who had previously
been the chairman of the federal Securities and Exchange Commission. AEP continued
to grow during this period,
Cook Nuclear Plant, Bridgman, Michigan
adding 21 new generating units to bring total
system generating capacity to 17.6 million kilowatts. By 1975, annual revenues
had climbed to $1.6 billion.
In 1967, AEP announced that it would build a nuclear generating station
on the shores of Lake Michigan. The 1,020,000-kw Unit 1 of the Donald
C. Cook Nuclear Plant went into commercial operation in 1975, while the 1,090,000-kw
Unit 2 was completed in 1978.
End Of The 20th Century: 1976-2000
Construction of AEP Headquarters, Columbus, Ohio
W.S. “Pete” White served as chairman from 1976 until 1991, and he presided
over the acquisition of Columbus and Southern Ohio Electric Company on May
9, 1980. That same year, after calling New York City its headquarters for nearly
three-quarters of a century, AEP began moving its corporate offices to Columbus,
Ohio, completing the move in 1983 with the completion of a new 31-story office
facility at 1 Riverside Plaza.
On January 1, 1991, Richard Disbrow succeeded White as chief executive
officer of the company, and inherited the chairman’s role when White
retired at the end of 1991.
E.R. Brooks (left) and E. Linn Draper
E. Linn Draper, Jr. became president of AEP in March, 1992. When Disbrow retired in April, 1993, Draper became chairman, president, and chief executive officer.
During 1996, AEP’s sales of electricity to retail customers topped
100 billion kilowatt hours for the first time in the company’s history.
On December 22, 1997, AEP announced a definitive merger with Central
and South West Corp. of Dallas, Texas. The merger was completed on
June 15, 2000 and created a company with (at that time) combined revenues
of $12.5 billion, electricity sales of 200 million megawatts hours, $35 billion
in assets, and nearly 9 million customers across the globe.
Recent Years: 2001 – Present.
Michael G. Morris became chairman, president, and chief executive officer of AEP in 2004.
AEP's 100th anniversary logo
American Electric Power celebrated its 100th anniversary during 2006,
highlighting AEP’s long tradition of leadership in the electric utility industry
In 2006, SWEPCO announced plans to build the John W. Turk, Jr. Power Plant,
a 600-megawatt baseload coal-fired plant that would be the first on the AEP System to incorporate ultra-supercritical coal combustion technology.
On October 30, 2009, AEP formally commissioned its carbon capture and storage project at its Mountaineer Plant in West Virginia. The project captured and placed in underground storage the carbon dioxide from a 20-megawatt slipstream of the exhaust gases from Mountaineer.
In 2010, members of the Valley Electric Membership Corporation voted to dissolve their electric cooperative and become customers of Southwestern Electric Power Company. SWEPCO purchased the assets of Valley Electric for approximately $96 million. SWEPCO's geographic footprint in Louisiana more than doubled with the addition of Valley Electric's service area.
AEP celebrated 100 years of consecutive, quarterly dividends to shareholders in 2010. The company paid $18.5 billion in dividends to its shareholders over those 100 years. According to AEP's research, only 23 other companies in America had paid dividends to shareholders consecutively for 100 years or more.
Nick Akins was elected chief executive officer of AEP by the AEP Board of Directors Nov. 12, 2011, adding to his position as president. Mike Morris remained chairman of the Board of Directors.
In March, 2012, AEP and AEP Retail Energy purchased BlueStar Energy Holdings Inc. and its independent retail electric supplier BlueStar Energy Solutions, based in Chicago. The company’s name was changed to AEP Energy.