Technology and having a balanced energy mix are vital attributes of a reliable, secure supply of electricity. They are also essential to achieving environmental goals in a clean energy economy. As the resource mix changes, the electric power system is being transformed – and so is AEP.
Clean Energy Future
Our strategy to diversify includes increasing our use of natural gas and renewable generation and reconfiguring the grid to support further integration of distributed energy resources, increased energy efficiency and demand response, and the growth of other customer-driven technologies. The expansion of renewable resources is a key driver of growth in our transmission business.
There is no doubt federal and state policy and society are moving toward the use of clean energy, regardless of what happens with the Clean Power Plan. New and existing fossil-fueled generation resources will be expected to achieve higher efficiencies and include advanced environmental control capabilities. AEP’s existing coal units are controlled or in the process of being controlled to achieve compliance with current environmental regulations. In the future, decisions to maintain these units will be driven by their ability to operate and perform economically as market conditions and environmental regulations change.
With that in mind, we will continue to prudently invest in technologies that support a balanced portfolio of generation assets. For the existing fossil fleet, our focus is on technologies that can improve efficiency, reliability, flexibility and maintenance of these assets. Improved monitoring and diagnostic capabilities, as well as applying “lean” processes and principles, will complement these investments and ensure these units continue to provide value to our customers and reliability of the power grid.
Given current economics, the logical technology choice for new 24/7 power sources will be high-efficiency combined-cycle natural gas units. However, wind and solar generation will play an increasing role as they become cost-competitive at grid-scale as an intermittent energy resource and align with regulatory mandates and customer preferences.
We are also investing in energy storage technologies that have the capability to improve the efficiency of the power grid and enable reliability with greater use of variable resources in the future.
The power grid of the future will need all of these sources to provide all customers access to safe, reliable and cost-effective electricity. Customer-focused energy efficiency programs and technologies will provide additional opportunities for AEP to adapt and serve our customers as the power grid becomes more and more decentralized.