AEP Sustainability - Environmental & Social Justice

Environmental & Social Justice

At AEP, we have a long history of engaging our stakeholders in the decisions we make, such as siting new transmission lines, building substations, developing customer programs and services, retiring power plants and planning for customers’ resource needs. Our stakeholders bring experiences, knowledge and perspectives that help inform our decision-making. On January 1, 2022, we adopted a new environmental and social justice (ESJ) policy to formalize and strengthen our commitment to proactive and meaningful stakeholder engagement, and ongoing consideration of the environmental and social impacts of our decisions.

The issue of ESJ has been highlighted in recent regulations, executive orders and legislation requiring a review of possible environmental and social inequities, particularly among historically marginalized communities. In response, we established a cross-functional ESJ Steering Committee representing diverse aspects of our business. The Steering Committee initiated extensive research, seeking input from internal and external stakeholders and conducting comprehensive benchmarking with industry peers to inform the development of our new policy.

Why This Matters

ESJ provides an opportunity for us to demonstrate our cultural focus on doing the right thing every time for our customers by ensuring investment equity as we modernize the power grid. We have an opportunity to lead by example in our industry by keeping ESJ top of mind as we proactively engage with stakeholders. This engagement helps to foster the trust of AEP’s employees, customers, investors, regulators and other key stakeholders. In addition, in today’s tight labor market, we believe AEP’s commitment to ESJ will help us attract and retain top talent. Job seekers increasingly value corporate citizenship and are actively looking for companies that focus on issues such as ESJ.

Defining ESJ at AEP

AEP defines ESJ as a commitment to consider the environmental and social impacts of our recommendations and decisions as we serve our communities, especially low-wealth communities, communities of color and other historically marginalized communities.

As part of our focus on delivering safe, clean, reliable and affordable electricity, we are dedicated to meaningful engagement with customers and communities to ensure fair treatment and equitable decision-making. Meaningful engagement involves listening, learning and seeking opportunities to partner with our stakeholders to incorporate ESJ into the decisions we make about existing and planned facilities, programs and services.

Energy Transition for All

As members of American Clean Power, AEP supports its Energy Transition for All initiative focused on offering greater access to clean and affordable energy, as well as economic growth and opportunities for investment and innovation for everyone. This multi-year initiative will focus on three pillars: expand opportunities for workers, especially those from transitioning and historically disadvantaged communities; create value for communities through supply chains, targeted investments, and local economic development; lead in diversity and inclusion, striving toward a workforce and leadership teams that are representative of the communities we operate in.

Important work lies ahead to operationalize this policy so that it becomes embedded in all of our processes as we modernize the grid. Our focus this year involves developing a framework for policy implementation. The framework will include detailed guidance and tools, employee education and training, change management, measurement and tracking, and disclosure guidance. The ESJ Steering Committee, supported by executive sponsors, will oversee this work.

Mitigating Health Disparities

Since the mid-1970s, colorectal cancer death rates have dropped 47% in the U.S., but not all regions have seen that improvement. One of those areas, considered a “hot spot” for colorectal cancer, is in AEP’s backyard: southern Ohio, western West Virginia and Eastern Kentucky, communities served by three of our operating companies.

The AEP Foundation has partnered with the American Cancer Society to mitigate health disparities in these communities, awarding grants totaling $425,000. Health disparities are a particular type of health difference that is linked with social, economic and/or environmental disadvantages and other characteristics historically connected to discrimination or exclusion and affect groups of people who have systematically experienced greater obstacles to health.

Cancer is a disease that affects everyone, but it does not affect everyone equally. With funding from the AEP Foundation, the ACS has been able to eliminate barriers that prevent the full participation and success of people in our communities.