American Electric Power, one of the nation’s biggest power generators, plans to invest $17.7 billion in its power grid over the next three years with a goal of improving service to customers and advancing new technology.

Of the $17.7 billion, $12.8 billion will be spent on transmission and distribution and $1.7 billion in renewable energy, Nick Akins, AEP’s chairman, president and CEO, told shareholders at the company’s annual meeting Tuesday according to the company.

AEP serves 5.4 million customers in a territory that includes parts of 11 states. It is the main electricity utility serving the Columbus metro area.

Over the past several years, the company has used its annual meeting to lay out its capital investment plans for the grid. During the 2017 annual meeting, the company said it planned to invest $17.3 billion over the next three years.

“Our 17,600 employees are focused on providing innovative energy solutions to our customers, integrating new technologies and building a smarter, cleaner and more resilient energy system,” Akins told shareholders.

The renewable energy investment does not include the company’s 2,000-megawatt Wind Catcher project in the Oklahoma panhandle that will provide wind energy for customers in Oklahoma, Arkansas, Texas and Louisiana. That wind farm costs $4.5 billion.

“We plan to invest $17.7 billion in capital over the next three years … as we work to develop the energy system of the future and meet the changing energy needs and expectations of our customers. These investments will continue to support our operating earnings growth rate of 5 percent to 7 percent,” Akins said.

 mawilliams@dispatch.com

@BizMarkWilliams

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