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AEP to sell commercial barge operations

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World Coal,

American Commercial Lines (ACL) is to buy AEP River Operations from American Electric Power (AEP) for US$550. AEP River Operations is a commercial inland barge company delivering about 45 million short tpa of productions, including 10 million tpa of coal.

AEP said in March that it was considering options to divest AEP River Operations.

"AEP is focused on delivering customer and shareholder value as a regulated utility company. AEP River Operations has an incredible legacy of success, but operating a commercial barge transportation company no longer fits well with our strategy," said Nicholas K. Akins, AEP chairman, president and CEO.

AEP River Operations has 56 towboats, 2301 barges and 1090 employees. The company is headquartered in Chesterfield, Missouri, with operations in Paducah, Kentucky, and Convent, Algiers and Belle Chasse, Louisiana. The deal is subject to regulatory approval, including federal clearance. It is expected to close in 4Q15.

Following the sale of AEP River Operations, the utility will retain ownership of its captive barge fleet that delivers coal to the company's regulated coal-fired power plants owned by Appalachian Power, Kentucky Power and Indiana Michigan Power. AEP has signed a contract with ACL to dispatch and operate this fleet through the end of 2016. The captive barge fleet delivers about 19 million short tpa of coal annually to AEP's regulated power plants. The fleet has 12 towboats, 498 barges and 229 employees.

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