Climate change, including decarbonization and our transition to a clean energy future, continues to be the primary issue of interest among the majority of our stakeholders. This complex and multi-dimensional issue touches almost every aspect of our business, which requires us to engage with diverse stakeholders whether virtually, through one-on-one engagement, through town hall meetings, or through formal regulatory processes. In 2021, we met with more than two dozen investors where we had the opportunity to discuss our path to a low-carbon energy future. We also continued our engagement with Climate Action 100+, including a virtual meeting between their team and AEP executive leaders.
As our transition to a clean energy future continues, we must consider the social and economic impacts our decarbonization strategy may have within the communities we serve. The decision to retire a coal plant has profound life-changing implications including loss of jobs at the plants and in the broader economy; loss of taxes that support public services, including education; and decreased economic activity that is supported by the plant’s ecosystem.
In 2021, AEP and our subsidiary Southwestern Electric Power Company partnered with the Just Transition Fund to plan for and mitigate the impacts of the planned retirement of the Pirkey Power Plant in East Texas. As a result, we formed the Pirkey Transition Task Force, composed of more than two dozen local leaders and community stakeholders, to develop an actionable plan to diversify the local economy. For six months, the Task Force met biweekly to share data, identify resources, raise concerns and questions, vet ideas, envision the future and work collaboratively toward an action plan. Read more about this effort in the Just Transition section.
The path to a low-carbon energy future requires investments across our service territory and within our local neighborhoods. Developing and siting infrastructure, such as transmission or renewable facilities, is a complex, technical process that involves balancing disturbance to human, cultural and natural resources with a community’s need for reliable electricity. At AEP, we’re dedicated to meaningful engagement with all customers and communities to ensure fair treatment and equitable decision-making.
In 2021, we developed an Environmental and Social Justice Policy that reinforces our commitment to consider environmental and social impacts when developing new infrastructure, transitioning our existing generation fleet, or deploying new programs, services and technologies. This includes listening, learning and seeking opportunities to partner with our stakeholders, especially low-wealth communities, communities of color and other historically marginalized communities, to incorporate environmental and social justice into our business strategy. We’re committed to providing all communities with the opportunity to understand our proposed policies and projects and discuss their concerns so that we can fully consider the environmental, social and health-related impacts of our decisions. Learn more in the Environmental and Social Justice section.
We are also actively involved in industry efforts through the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) and Edison Electric Institute (EEI) that aim to convene a meaningful dialogue and develop resources, research and tools that support advancing equity and environmental justice.
Our team of specialists is focused on transmission right-of-way acquisition, siting and community outreach and is dedicated to avoiding or minimizing impacts to people and the environment to the greatest extent possible. In 2021, the Transmission Right-of-Way team logged 98,850 interactions with landowners and acquired nearly 4,100 easements, securing landowner agreements more than 99% of the time. The Project Outreach team also hosted a total of 46 virtual or in-person open houses. Open houses, whether traditional or virtual, serve as an excellent opportunity for landowners and members of the community to learn about the project need and benefits, timeline, right-of-way practices and construction process and to view interactive maps.