11/5/1998

First Payment Made to Rockport by AEP To Fund Infrastructure Improvements

ROCKPORT, Ind., November 5, 1998 -- AEP’s David Synowiec today presented Rockport Mayor Joe Greene with a check for $200,000 making the first payment on the company’s long term commitment to help the city of Rockport fund infrastructure improvements. AEP has agreed to pay the city up to $5.5 million over the next 20 years. "We’re under considerable pressure to improve the capacity of both our water and wastewater facilities," said Rockport Mayor Joe Greene, who outlined the city’s needs and laid out a plan for meeting those needs at a joint news conference in the city’s town hall today. "Two studies completed this summer point to the seriousness of the issue, and warn us that we risk exceeding the capacity of both facilities in the very near future. "But Rockport needs to grow in order to thrive," said the mayor, "and that means expanding the infrastructure to make that possible." The mayor pointed to a couple of development projects as examples of possible growth. "The Lincolnland Development Project to our north and the Steelport development to our west are the kinds of projects that we need to create new jobs for residents of both the city and the county. But we need to be prepared to offer them water and wastewater services. Right now, we’re just not able to do that." The total cost of infrastructure improvements could fall into the $10-15 million range, depending on environmental rules, options the city decides to endorse, and how refined the required system would need to be. The first step in the process is to fund a preliminary engineering report that could help define the problem, suggest possible solutions, and secure financial assistance from the state. The check presented today by AEP will help pay for that report. "It became clear that we needed help from the industrial sector to fund improvements," said the mayor. "We can’t ask residential taxpayers to support commercial and industrial growth." In an effort to raise funds for those improvements, the city first attempted to annex the AEP plant north of the city. When AEP objected to that, the two parties sat down and worked out an agreement that provides support to the city without annexation. Payments will be made into a capital fund for the city to pay for major infrastructure improvements on a 20-year schedule as follows: $200,000 for the first five years, $250,000 for the following five years, $300,000 for an additional five years, and $350,000 for the final five years. After the first 10 years, either party has the option of extending the contract for another 10-year period, and if new generating units are added at the plant, the annual payment will be increased by a predetermined formula. Because the city has critical infrastructure needs that must be addressed immediately, the payment schedule has been stepped up in the early years of the agreement. This first payment of $200,000 is being made today, less than a week after the agreement was approved by Spencer Circuit Court. The second payment will be paid on January 1, 1999. Starting in the year 2000, all payments will be paid on November 1 of the year they are due. "The accelerated payment schedule is crucial in resolving Rockport’s infrastructure issues in a timely way," said Rockport Plant Manager Synowiec. "It avoids the traditional taxation process -- which could take years to resolve -- and puts money in the city’s pocket immediately so it can start work right away on the projects that need attention." "This agreement provides the city with much needed capital for infrastructure improvements and gives the plant an equitable tax structure," said the mayor. "It’s a win-win agreement, and another example of our ongoing partnership with AEP to improve our community."

For More Information, Contact: Joe Greene Rockport Mayor (812) 649-2242 Mike Brian AEP State Corporate Communications Manager (219) 425-2137

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