Letter to the Editor

Future may not be so bright for AEP, SWEPCO after all

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Things aren't looking good for AEP/SWEPCO. It seems that investors are becoming wise to their bottom line, and even though utilities won't like what's happening with solar, the development of photovoltaics on rooftops and back yard panels is happening far faster than power transmission companies had hoped. Barclays recently downgraded electric utility bonds, recognizing their higher risks resulting from their solar predicament.

AEP/SWEPCO seems to have been caught with their pants down as America's worst contributor of atmospheric carbon, just as the EPA is poised on the edge of acknowledging that too much carbon dioxide is one of the world's most destructive forms of pollution. You can stick your head in the sands and ignore global warming or even deny if you like, but if you live on a coastline, you will likely become a believer in four-quarter time. How does AEP plan to placate their many investors in the Great State of Florida? Mortgages there have been underwater, and the homes might be too if the Antarctic ice sheet does what scientists now fear most. Research has proven that the ice sheet is melting at a far more alarming rate than they had previously thought. Please imagine what a 5 or 6 foot rise in sea level will do to Florida, Louisiana and every coastal city in the US.

AEP/SWEPCO has alienated citizens across Northwest Arkansas through their thoughtless shenanigans, and if the Public Service Commission agrees to their plan, they may soon be feeling that state regulatory agencies are their only remaining friends in the whole world. Investors will leave in droves.

Power companies like AEP have bragged to their investors about raising profits at a steady pace while the demand for their product has declined. They have been successful at getting public service commissions to allow them to keep raising their rates, but how long will that last? Sooner or later folks will wise up, and make certain that public officials represent the public concerns instead of corporate greed.

In a strange way, our opposition to the AEP/SWEPCO Shipes Road to Kings River power line is the best thing we could ever do for the power industry. If successful we will have done our small part in keeping them from being overly encumbered by insurmountable debt. It is unlikely that AEP/SWEPCO will ever thank us for our action against this power line. But if we can stop their ugly malfeasance we will be able to rest assured that we've done what's right for them and for us.

-- Doug Stowe