AEP Sustainability - Water Management

Water Use & Management

Water is essential for the production of electricity and is critical for many of our processes, including cooling of equipment. Although approximately 87% of AEP’s power generating capacity in 2021 required water, we returned most of the water we use to its original source. Our coal and natural gas supply chains also rely on water to mine coal and extract natural gas for power generation. Water consumption occurs when it is lost to evaporation primarily due to process cooling and flue gas scrubbing. This represents less than 4% of AEP’s total water use.

As much as we need access to water, we also have a responsibility to manage this resource to minimize potential impacts and to reduce consumption. Our water withdrawal and consumption will continue to decrease as we diversify our generating portfolio through the addition of wind and solar since these energy sources do not require any water input. Our water intensity will also decrease as we retire fossil-fuel generation capacity as part of our three-year non-emitting generating capacity growth long-term incentive plan.

Water Use Reporting

Because we place a high value on transparency, we extensively report on our usage and management of water throughout our system in different forums. We do this through both required reporting, such as the U.S. Energy Information Administration, state-level water usage reports and through voluntary efforts. For example, we annually disclose water data in our ESG Data Center, Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB) report and GRI report, and we participate annually in the CDP Water Survey.


Water Management in High-Risk areas

The effects of drought and flooding conditions have the potential to significantly affect our operations. We operate several power plants in drought-prone regions of the country that require careful management of water use. We have comprehensive water conservation plans in place for the Pirkey, Welsh, Wilkes and Knox Lee power plants. In 2021, these plants conserved an estimated 974 million gallons of water, demonstrating the effectiveness of this management approach.

In 2021, AEP received an EPRI Technology Transfer Award for our support and implementation of EPRI’s “Hydrological Models for Climate-based Assessments and Climate Scenario Analysis,” research to identify facilities located in areas that are vulnerable to flooding.

To help manage our watersheds, we participate in various voluntary efforts, including protecting the watershed of Caddo Lake, a Ramsar Convention designated wetland area and one of only 41 such sites in the United States. We also participate in the Illinois River Watershed Partnership in Arkansas and Oklahoma, which includes the AEP Flint Creek Power Plant. Recently, the AEP Foundation presented the Partnership with a $200,000 grant to support environmental education extended through 2022 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In contrast to drought, heavy rain events also can disrupt the operation and construction of our generation, transmission and distribution facilities located across AEP’s service territory. In response, we continue to search for solutions to mitigate the impacts of these events. For example, in 2021, Appalachian Power received the Stormwater Clean Award presented by Roanoke County’s Department of Development Services. Appalachian Power was recognized for its efforts to implement erosion and sediment control measures during construction of a substation and approximately a quarter mile of transmission line as part of the Glenmary Substation Project. As a result, downstream waterways have been protected from sediment-laden stormwater runoff.