American Electric Power Foundation donates $200,000 to Illinois River Watershed Partnership in NW Arkansas

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark., Nov. 9, 2010 – The American Electric Power Foundation has announced a $200,000 grant to the Illinois River Watershed Partnership (IRWP) to fund a public education and outreach campaign about watershed management.

The Foundation is funded by American Electric Power (NYSE: AEP) and its utility operating units, including Southwestern Electric Power Company (SWEPCO), which serves 114,000 customers in Benton and Washington counties and other parts of western Arkansas. Flint Creek Power Plant, co-owned by SWEPCO and the Arkansas Electric Cooperative Corp. and operated by SWEPCO, is located on Little Flint Creek, a tributary of Flint Creek and the Illinois River. SWEPCO Lake, the 500-acre cooling reservoir for the power plant, is part of the watershed.

“We are pleased to present this three-year gift totaling $200,000 to support the work of the many people who care about this valuable river resource,” said Venita McCellon-Allen, SWEPCO president and chief operating officer. “Our Flint Creek Power Plant and SWEPCO Lake have been an important part of this watershed for more than 30 years. The mission of the Illinois River Watershed Partnership is a natural fit with SWEPCO’s commitment to environmental stewardship in all of our operations.”

The AEP Foundation grant provides funding to educate and motivate stakeholders to implement the best management practices in the watershed. Region 6 of the Environmental Protection Agency, the Arkansas Natural Resources Commission, the Walton Family Foundation and the IRWP have jointly funded a $400,000 watershed management plan which is being developed along with a Handbook of Best Management Practices for the Illinois River Watershed urban and rural settings.

“We appreciate the AEP Foundation’s generous grant, which will help put into action the education and outreach efforts that are vital to preserve and protect our watershed,” said IRWP Executive Director Delia Haak.

The announcement was made during the Nov. 9 IRWP Annual Membership and Board Meeting at Arvest Ballpark in Springdale, Ark.

The goals and objectives of the Illinois River Watershed Public Education and Community Outreach Project are to preserve, protect and restore the Illinois River Watershed through public education, community outreach, and demonstration projects that increase awareness and knowledge that motivates stakeholders to adopt individual best management practices, Haak said.

Project tasks include planning and development, an outreach campaign, public education, watershed stakeholder assessments, riparian project outreach and education, riparian management implementation, technology transfer, project evaluation and reporting, Haak said.

The American Electric Power Foundation is funded by American Electric Power and its utility operating units. The Foundation provides a permanent, ongoing resource for charitable initiatives involving higher dollar values and multi-year commitments in the communities served by AEP and initiatives outside of AEP’s 11-state service area.

The Foundation’s areas of focus include special emphasis on improving lives through education from early childhood through higher education, protecting the environment, providing basic human services in the areas of hunger, housing, health and safety, and enriching life through art, music and cultural heritage.

The Foundation is based in Columbus, Ohio. 

Southwestern Electric Power Company serves 504,000 customers in three states, including 114,000 in western Arkansas, 210,000 in Northwest Louisiana and 180,000 in East Texas and the Texas Panhandle. SWEPCO’s headquarters are in Shreveport, La. For more information, visit www.swepco.com

The Illinois River Watershed Partnership is a not-for-profit membership-based organization working to protect and restore the Illinois River and its tributaries throughout Arkansas and Oklahoma. For more information, visit www.irwp.org

Peter Main
SWEPCO Corporate Communications
479-973-2526 (office)
479-409-7857 (mobile)