American Electric Power (AEP) has not made a decision on whether to sell several smaller hydroelectric plants in West Virginia, Indiana, Michigan and, possibly, Ohio, AEP spokesman Phil Moye reported Friday.
Moye did not confirm employees' reports that AEP is seeking to sell several hydroelectric plants, which employees fear would cause the company to lay off 23 workers. The AEP spokesman confirmed that the plants employ "around 20" people.
He did not offer the specific number of facilities which are being discussed.
"We have not announced any plans to sell those hydroelectric facilities," Moye said. "It's something we may be studying, or looking at, but we have certainly not come to any decision on it.
"Even if we did say we are going to sell these things, then, of course, the state would have to approve it.
"There are a lot of things that would have to happen for something like that to take place," he said. "It's a responsible thing to do, for any company, to look at its operations, the assets it has, and to make sure you're operating the company in a manner that is best for your companies, for your shareholders and for your employees.
"We do have an effort going on right now, where we're looking at a lot of things — pretty much every aspect of our business — to see what things make sense and what things don't.
"This could be one of those things that's under consideration, but it's not something that's advanced to the point where we've made some definitive decision to try and move forward with a sale, or to petition agencies for approval for that.
According to the stock site www.macrotrends.com, AEP has seen an increase in gross profit each year since 2018, with $10.455 billion in 2019, an increase of 0.44 percent from 2018, when profits had been $10.409 billion, a 2.93 percent increase from 2017.
In late February, AEP's West Virginia subsidiaries, Appalachian Power and Wheeling Power, had asked the Public Service Commission to approve three rate hikes, citing the maintenance and improvement of utility infrastructure, higher state and local taxes, a reduction in federal income taxes and a loss of 11,000 customers sine 2013.
One of the cases asks for $114.6 million in new revenue.
The proposed increase, which AEP wants to put into effect by June 8, would increase residential customers' bills by about 11 percent each month. Industrial users would see a negligible increase of one percent.
The company said electricity usage for residential customers is down 14 percent compared to 2013 rates.
The PSC has not yet reached a decision on the rate hike request.
The PSC approved a request by AEP for a three percent rate increase in February 2019. Moye said that, because of the way the increase was structured, customers who used a large amount of electricity did not see an increase and saw possibly a decrease in bills, while customers which used less electricity saw an increase.
Moye said on Friday that AEP has not approached the West Virginia Public Service Commission or regulatory agencies in other states to ask permission to sell the hydroelectric plants, which use water to generate between 14 to 17 megawatts of electricity, which he characterized as a smaller amount when compared to other AEP facilities.
State and federal agencies would have to approve AEP to sell the plants and would also have to approve the purchase by a new buyer.