COLUMBUS, Ohio, Feb. 28, 2000 -- American Electric Power (NYSE: AEP) was recently recognized as one of the nation’s first companies to receive certification for practicing sustainable forestry by the American Tree Farm System. The company was also honored as Ohio’s “Tree Farmer of the Year” by the Ohio Tree Farm Committee.

The honors were announced at the Ohio Forestry Association’s annual meeting in Dublin, Ohio, on Feb. 26.

“Environmental stewardship is a core value at AEP, so we’re thrilled with this significant recognition of our hard work to achieve environmental leadership,” said Dale Heydlauff, vice president, environmental affairs. “We thank the American Tree Farm System for this honor, and we pledge to continue to build on the reforestation, forest management, public recreation and wildlife habitat programs which have earned such wonderful accolades today.”

“We´re honored to recognize AEP for an outstanding record of forest stewardship that goes well beyond what they do on their own lands. AEP helped lead the entire utility industry in looking at forests differently: as valuable wildlife habitat, as barriers against sprawl, and as oxygen factories that absorb greenhouse gases,” said Laurence Wiseman, president of the American Forest Foundation. The American Tree Farm System is a program of the Foundation.

“Tree farming is vitally important to Ohio as well as the nation,” said Bill Lawhon, Ohio Tree Farm committee chairman. “It is only fitting that we recognize AEP as the largest tree planting entity in the state, and as a leader in the utility industry on forest management and carbon sequestration.”

In its seven-state service territory, AEP has planted more than 53.4 million trees on land owned by the company, and owns more than 200,000 acres of forest. AEP placed the acreage under formal forest management in 1978. Every 10 years, AEP creates a management plan that complies with U.S. Forest Service guidelines to ensure proper stocking levels and adequate room for tree growth.

AEP’s initial forest stewardship program began with a reforestation effort on mined land south of Zanesville, Ohio, in 1944. The company planted trees to return the land to a productive state. The program grew to include tree planting on abandoned or idle marginal agricultural land. Hardwood as well as conifer trees were planted.

In 1995, AEP committed to plant 15 million trees on 20,000 acres of company land between 1996 and 2000 as part of the Department of Energy’s Climate Challenge program. The trees will create a new “carbon sink,” which is intended to sequester the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide.

“AEP’s forestry program has received a number of state and national honors through the years,” Heydlauff said. “However, we view being certified for practicing sustainable forestry by the American Tree Farm System as one of the highest honors the company can receive.”

Currently, more than 120,000 acres in the AEP system have been certified.

AEP, a global energy company, is one of the United States’ largest investor-owned utilities, providing energy to 3 million customers in Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia. AEP has holdings in the United States, the United Kingdom, China and Australia. Wholly owned subsidiaries provide power engineering, energy consulting and energy management services around the world. The company is based in Columbus, Ohio.

For More Information, Contact:
Deb Strohmaier
Ohio Corporate Communications Manager
American Electric Power
Work: 614/223-1656
Pager: 888/720-9418

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