COLUMBUS — By the end of May, American Electrical Power is expecting to cut approximately 5 percent to 10 percent of its employees from within their 11-state service area. The number of local employees affected will be self-determined.
Employees were notified Wednesday of the voluntary buyout program; those that would like to participate should inform AEP by the end of April. Acceptance to participate will be confirmed by mid-April with employees expected to leave payroll by the end of May.
“We are giving employees the opportunity to volunteer to take a buy out,” said Melissa McHenry, spokeswoman for AEP from the Columbus office. “Our goal is to not have any negative impact on customer service, liability or on employee safety.”
For employees opting for the buyout, AEP is giving two weeks of pay for every year of service with the company as severance pay.
With the anticipated cut of between 1,000 to 2,000 employees, AEP is taking measures to ensure customer service and provide the same service offered now. The number of employees working directly with customers will not change, McHenry said. Employees will be moved within the company to keep customer service operating smoothly.
“Even if we get to the 10 percent level this would get us back to the employee levels we were in 2004 to 2005 so we really have grown since that time,” she said.
Changes in the economy and demand for electricity had resulted in AEP official tightening up the company’s purse strings including last year’s hiring and wage freeze.
“And now, as we look at what the projections will be for our 11-state service area we’re not going to see the kind of growth we’ve seen before the recession started so we have to make more sustainable steps to cut our costs and this is one of those steps. We are also looking at other ways to cut costs within our company; it’s not just on the employee level,” said McHenry.
After the voluntary cut, McHenry said it is undetermined what will happen next.
“We won’t really know until we see how many employees volunteer and what type of positions they are in, and what type of cost savings will be associated with the changes in those positions if we would have to do anything beyond the voluntary program,” said McHenry.