AEP moves into renewable energy

A US power company at the centre of a legal battle with the US Government over air pollution has announced it is to diversify into renewable energy.

American Electric Power (AEP) will create a new organisation that will not only develop renewable power generation technologies, but will also assess the viability of emerging emission control technologies to reduce the release of pollutants and greenhouse gases (ghgs) from the company´s fossil-fuelled power plants.

In November 1999, the US EPA filed air pollution lawsuits against AEP and six other electric utility companies in the Midwest and South in an attempt to force the companies to install appropriate air pollution-control technology at ageing power stations. The companies were charged with making modifications to 17 power stations without installing suitable emissions-control technology (see related story).

The new organisation will be headed by Martin Mearhoff in his new role as vice president of renewable energy and advanced technologies. Reporting to Mearhoff will be Bob Gellenbeck as director of advanced environmental controls and Mario Marrocco as director of renewable energy and advanced power systems.

Gellenbeck´s organisation will make assessments of the viability of emerging emission control technologies to reduce or eliminate the release of nitrogen oxide, sulphur dioxide, carbon dioxide and other emissions from the company´s fossil-fuelled power plants. Gellenbeck´s group will also evaluate and structure AEP´s involvement in the development and commercialisation of the new technologies.

Meanwhile, Marrocco´s organisation will assess the technical feasibility and commercial viability of new and emerging renewable energy technologies including solar, wind, biomass and landfill gas, as well as generation options such as fuel cells and microturbines. The group will evaluate and structure AEP´s involvement in developing and commercialising the technologies in the energy marketplace. The group will also provide green energy solutions to the needs of institutional, commercial and industrial customers.

“AEP has always tried to protect the environment while providing reliable energy at low cost,” said John Norris, senior vice president, operations & technical services at AEP. “This new initiative will help position AEP as a world leader in environmentally friendly energy solutions.”

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