ROANOKE, Va., April 21, 2008 – Appalachian Power, a subsidiary of American Electric Power (NYSE: AEP), has announced it will place almost 5,000 acres of scenic Smith Mountain in Bedford and Pittsylvania counties of Virginia under a Conservation Easement.
The property is essentially the Smith Mountain Wildlife Area located on one of the region’s most beautiful and certainly most prominent geologic features at the southeast end of the company’s Smith Mountain Lake. The dam holding the upper reservoir of the hydroelectric project is located on the Roanoke River in the gap that divides the distinctive north and south portions of the mountain.
Michael G. Morris, AEP’s chairman, president and chief executive officer, presented documents that will bring the property under the easement to Virginia Gov. Timothy M. Kaine Monday evening in Roanoke.
“This tract of land is especially beautiful and a prominent centerpiece for the entire lake area,” Morris said. “The easement will ensure that its beauty and character will be preserved from this point forward.
“I’m especially pleased that events allow the AEP Board of Directors to join in this presentation and to personally make this contribution allowing Gov. Kaine to take another step toward his goal of setting aside undeveloped land for the future of the Commonwealth,” Morris added.
Morris, the AEP Board of Directors and others are in Roanoke for the company’s Annual Meeting of Shareholders on Tuesday.
Gov. Kaine established a statewide goal of placing 400,000 acres of undeveloped land under conservation easements during his term in office.
“Placing this tract in a permanent easement will ensure that beautiful tree-covered Smith Mountain will remain in its current condition for future generations to enjoy,” Gov. Kaine said. “These 5,000 acres will bring to nearly 250,000 the total acreage protected toward my 400,000-acre goal.”  
Appalachian Power will convey the land under a conservation easement to be held by the Virginia Outdoors Foundation (VOF) and the Virginia Board of Game and Inland Fisheries.  The VOF is a quasi-state agency that has been in operation for more than 40 years and holds the majority of the conservation easements in Virginia.  The easement will preserve the natural, scenic, historic, scientific, open-space and recreation areas of lands within the Commonwealth by permanently restricting the property owners’ rights to develop that land intensively for residential, commercial or industrial purposes.
“This property was acquired in the course of development of the Smith Mountain Project hydroelectric facility during the mid-1960s,” said Dana Waldo, Appalachian Power president and chief operating officer.
“In the summer of 2006, company representatives learned of the easement initiative from Virginia Secretary of Natural Resources Preston Bryant who is leading efforts to fulfill this pledge during the governor´s term. The idea was then developed to bring Smith Mountain into a permanent, protected status,” Waldo noted.  “Work then began on this rather complex matter and, in a subsequent meeting in early 2007, Mike Morris pledged to Secretary Bryant our interest and cooperation in making the easement a reality.”
Because of Appalachian´s operation and management of the Smith Mountain Project, the company worked extensively with the VOF to craft an agreement which allows it to operate and maintain all aspects of its electrical facilities while achieving the goals of permanently protecting a wide variety of natural resources.  To do so, the company worked with the VOF and Secretary Bryant´s office to ensure that a limited number of specific rights could be preserved while coexisting with threshold requirements for conservation easements.
A key provision in this document is the continuation of Appalachian’s agreement with the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (VDGIF) to manage this property as a wildlife area for public recreational purposes, including fishing, hunting, camping and hiking.  The company’s relationship with VDGIF at Smith Mountain dates back approximately 40 years.
Smith Mountain Project is a 636-megawatt pumped storage hydroelectric facility that utilizes an upper reservoir (Smith Mountain Lake) and a lower reservoir (Leesville Lake). Water stored in Smith Mountain Lake first passes through turbine-generators in the powerhouse to produce electricity and is discharged into Leesville Lake.  Most of the water is retained in Leesville Lake and pumped back into the Smith Mountain Lake for re-use.  A portion of the water goes through the turbine-generators at the Leesville powerhouse to generate additional electricity and to meet the minimum discharge requirements of the project´s Federal Energy Regulatory Commission license. 
            Appalachian Power provides electricity to 1 million customers in Virginia, West Virginia and Tennessee (as AEP Appalachian Power). It is a unit of American Electric Power (NYSE: AEP), one of the largest electric utilities in the United States, with more than 5 million customers in 11 states. AEP ranks among the nation’s largest generators of electricity, owning nearly 38,000 megawatts of generating capacity in the U.S. AEP also owns the nation’s largest electricity transmission system, a nearly 39,000-mile network that includes more 765 kilovolt extra-high voltage transmission lines than all other U.S. transmission systems combined. 

John Shepelwich
Corporate Communications Manager

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