Major utility to quit ALEC

Electric utility American Electric Power Co. (AEP) is ending its membership in the conservative American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).

The company said its departure, first reported by The Guardian, would allow it to focus resources on complying with the Obama administration’s climate change rule for power plants.

“We reviewed our memberships and decided to reallocate resources to other areas of focus including working directly with the states and other stakeholder groups on issues like the Clean Power Plan,” spokeswoman Melissa McHenry said.

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AEP’s departure is the latest in a string of high-profile members leaving ALEC, which pushes for conservative policies in state legislatures.

In the last two years, it’s lost Google Inc., T-Mobile, Royal Dutch Shell, BP, Yahoo Inc., Coca-Cola, Amazon.com and eBay, among other big dues-paying companies.

Without specifically mentioning AEP, ALEC spokesman Bill Meierling said the group is doing very well and companies that leave are missing out.

“ALEC member legislators are more professional, more involved and more engaged than the average state legislator, and companies that depart — as a result of strategic shifts or any other reason — will unfortunately be absent from the educational exchange undertaken at ALEC meetings,” he said in a statement.

ALEC has lobbied heavily in states against Obama’s climate rule, and it has pushed state legislation to outright reject the rule or make it difficult for state regulators to write plans to comply.

AEP had some initial concerns with the regulation. But its chief executive officer told a conference last month that the rule could help it toward diversifying its power generation mix, among other priorities, Columbus Business First reported.