Lobbying and Political Activity
We belong to, participate in or support several state, local and national organizations, including the National Conference of State Legislatures, the Edison Electric Institute, the Business Roundtable, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM). We do so for a variety of reasons, including staying current on issues, learning best business practices from our peers, and strengthening our relationships with our customers, many of whom are also members. In June 2015, AEP CEO Nick Akins assumes the chairmanship of EEI for a one-year term. In addition, he chairs the BRT’s Energy and Environment Committee.
We actively participate in the political process to advance the long-term interests of our customers, employees, investors and other stakeholders. We maintain five political action committees (PACs) that are run by our employees – one for federal candidates and separate state PACs in Michigan, Ohio, Texas and Virginia. Approximately 28 percent of the employees eligible to participate in our federal PAC do so. AEP’s federal PAC, the AEP Committee for Responsible Government, contributed more than $705,000 to candidates for public office in 2014. Federal and state laws allow AEP to pay expenses of operating its PACs. We also have a process whereby political contributions are reviewed annually by AEP’s board of directors.
In 2014, we spent about $6.5 million on internal and external lobbying activities at the state and federal level. This includes dues to trade or national associations for which a portion goes toward lobbying. We maintain an office in Washington, D.C., to address issues involving federal legislation and regulation. Each of our operating companies has lobbyists who work in their respective state capitals.
We disclose our political contributions, as well as the portion of membership dues to various organizations used for lobbying purposes, on an annual basis. We also post our corporate political contributions policy online. For more information, see our lobbying policy and our disclosure for 2014.
From time to time, many, if not most, of the organizations to which we belong reach conclusions or take positions with which we disagree. When appropriate, we voice our disagreement and work to change the organization’s position. Sometimes our views prevail, sometimes they do not. Many times we are able to reach some sort of compromise.
We believe in transparency and active participation in public debate. That conviction is based on our deeply held belief in collaboration, which we practice both internally and externally. Our experience is that open, candid discussion and a good-faith attempt to reach common ground is the best way to do business.
We believe, as a general rule, that it is more beneficial to AEP to remain involved in these organizations, even if we occasionally disagree, than to withdraw. We believe we can be far more effective in shaping the policies of the organizations from within rather than sitting on the sidelines.