AEP Considers Selling Barge Business
The State Journal
23 March 2015
By Jim Ross
American Electric Power is looking at options for its river
In a statement released March 23, the company said it had hired
Morgan Stanley & Co. "to explore strategic alternatives for
its competitive barge transportation subsidiary, AEP River
AEP River Operations is one of the largest U.S. inland marine
transportation companies providing transportation services for
bulk commodities, coal and liquids.
In the Ohio Valley, AEP River Operations is best known for
supplying coal and limestone to its power plants along the Ohio
River. AEP boats drop barges at Point Pleasant, where other boats
take them to the John Amos Power Plant on the Kanawha River
between Winfield and St. Albans.
AEP River Operations has a dock at the Mason County, WV community
AEP has been in the river transportation business since the early
1970s, when it bought West Virginia-based O.F. Shearer &Sons.
For the next three decades, the river transportation business
mainly delivered coal to AEP power plants. About 15 years ago, AEP
expanded its river operations with the purchase of MEMCO, a
commercial barge operation based in St. Louis. That enabled AEP to
enter the contract hauling business for dry goods on the
Mississippi River system. AEP recently added a fleet of tank
barges so it could haul liquids, also.
In the past seven years, AEP has added 10 new towboats of about
6,000 horsepower each to its fleet servicing the Ohio River. Each
boat cost about $13 million. Those boats have been frequent
visitors to and hosted open houses at the Point Pleasant river
festival each Labor Day.
In its statement released this week, AEP said, "AEP is committed
to completing its review of potential alternatives for River
Operations as promptly as practicable. There are no assurances
that any particular alternative will be pursued or that any
transaction will occur, or on what terms. The company does not
plan to release additional information about the status of the
review of alternatives until a definitive agreement is entered
into or the process is otherwise completed."