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Society benefits from a multitude of natural resources and processes that are known as ecosystem services. These services contribute to clean drinking water and processes such as decomposition of wastes or the assimilation of greenhouse gases. In addition, biodiversity, or the variety of biological life in any given habitat or ecosystem, is an important ecosystem service. The electric power industry relies on ecosystem services for the daily operation of power plants throughout the world. We understand that how we manage our resources can directly affect these services, as well as the associated ecosystems and biodiversity.

AEP, in conjunction with EPRI, is assessing the ecosystem service tradeoffs associated with different land use management scenarios. For example, managing land to increase greenhouse gas sequestration may affect biodiversity. These assessments can also be used to identify the best combination of ecosystem services and biodiversity that can be achieved at a particular location or landscape and can help balance these uses with commercial endeavors, such as siting transmission lines or shale gas drilling. EPRI is conducting the study at the 60,000-acre ReCreation Land site in east-central Ohio, which is former AEP surface-mined land that has been reclaimed and converted to recreational use.

In 2002, EPRI conducted a detailed assessment of the ReCreation lands to consider possible revenue from developing environmental “eco-asset” credits on the site. Now, nearly 10 years later, the concepts around ecosystem services are gaining new attention, making it worth taking a more rigorous look at this concept to understand ecosystem services at this and other AEP properties.

We are often asked by some environmental advocates if we consider biodiversity when siting new transmission lines and other facilities. We absolutely take those issues into consideration, and we’re looking at how we can better manage rights of way to enhance biodiversity.

Little Tumbling Creek - A Partnership Success Story

  • For more data, please see EN11-EN15 of AEP's Global Reporting Initiative G3.1 questionnaire and EU13 of AEP's Global Reporting Initiative Electric Utility Sector Supplement
170 thousand acres of forest