Waste and Chemical Management
We manage many types of waste that result from the process of generating electricity, operating office buildings, and repairing and replacing equipment. We continue to reduce and divert waste from landfills through beneficial reuse or recycling.
The amount of polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB)-containing equipment used across the company continues to decline. PCBs, which are known to have adverse health effects, have not been used in new electrical equipment in the U.S. for more than 36 years but are present in some of our older transformers and other pieces of electric equipment. We removed and recycled approximately 51,000 pieces of electrical equipment in 2016.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is developing a proposed draft rule that would require the phaseout of certain PCB-containing equipment, potentially including equipment containing 50 parts per million (ppm) of PCB’s or greater. AEP operates hundreds of thousands of pieces of electrical equipment that could be affected by the draft rule. Current regulations require that if you do not know the PCB content of certain types of equipment, you must assume that they contain 50 ppm of PCBs or greater. Due to the types, locations and quantities of the potentially affected equipment throughout the AEP system, the expense of identifying, sampling and potentially replacing all of this equipment, if required, would be significant.
We had 1,290 transmission and distribution equipment oil spills in 2016, slightly less than the number of spills in 2015. Only one of the spills contained greater than 500 ppm PCBs in 2016. Most spills are caused by severe weather and public vehicle accidents that damage the equipment.
During 2016, the waste we recycled included approximately 333,000 gallons of oil, 245,000 pounds of paper and mixed office waste, 55 million pounds of scrap metal, 36,000 pounds of light bulbs, 348,000 pounds of batteries and more than 38,000 pounds of electronic equipment, such as computers and phones, preventing disposal in landfills. These numbers are not all-inclusive but are considered good estimates of waste management across AEP and indicate progress in reducing waste.