AEP to push 'surgical' approach to power market reforms in Ohio
- American Electric Power CEO Nick Akins yesterday told reporters and analysts that the utility is working on a plan to roll out legislative proposals would be a more targeted approach to saving its beleaguered coal fleet rather than more broadly addressing energy markets, Columbus Business First reports.
- The utility has previously pushed for support for its older generation, and has indicated it will not build more power plants absent a clear path to cost recovery.
- The utility reported fourth quarter 2016 earnings of $373 million, or 76 cents/share, compared with $470 million in 2015. Akin, in the company's earnings call, said he expects the utility to flourish under new policies announced by the incoming Presidential administration.
American Electric Power is continuing to work on some form of deregulation in Ohio to keep some of its struggling coal fleet afloat, reinforcing that goal in an earnings call yesterday. CEO Akins hinted that the final proposal is likely to be "surgical" as opposed to a broad restructuring of the state's energy markets.
"A major focus right now is not to burden the legislature with provisions that may slow it down because if you start talking about re-regulation or obligation to serve, all those kinds of things, it just brings in more issues," Akins said. "But if it's surgical in terms of its approach ... let's put those together and move forward very quickly through the legislature."
Akins said the company expects to find a sponsor for its legislation in the second quarter.
AEP, along with FirstEnergy, last year won support for struggling coal and nuclear generation from the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio. But federal regulators subsequently blocked the deals, leading to talk of plant sales and re-regulation as many aging baseload plants struggle to compete with low-cost natural gas and renewable energy.
Akin also said load growth was positive for the first quarter in a year—but added that it was "minimal." The utility is hoping energy policies from the new Presidential administration will be a boon to its bottom line.
"President Trump’s focus of enhancing the ability for manufacturing industries to thrive and produce jobs, well that's AEP’s service territory," Akins said. "His focus on balance portfolio of energy resources including fossil fuels that's also AEP’s service territory."
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