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American Electric Power CEO Gives Trump Advice on Paris Climate Deal

June 1, 2017, 4:25 PM UTC

The CEO of one of America’s largest electric utilities companies has some advice for President Trump ahead of his decision on whether to pull out of the landmark Paris climate treaty.

“Work with the world community. Focus on the solutions that are in front of us,” says Nick Akins, the head of American Electric Power (AEP). “It is imperative for us to continue to stay focused on what the prize is. And that’s that cleaner energy economy.”

That has been Akins’ strategy at AEP since 2010 when he took the reins of the 110-year-old company that’s ranked number 165 on the Fortune 500. He dramatically reduced the company’s coal operations, expanded into natural gas, and moved aggressively into alternative energy resources like wind and solar power. Going forward, that’s the path he says he is staying on despite President Trump’s campaign promise of reviving the coal business in the U.S. “I don’t think it’s a realistic expectation to think that coal is going to come back in a big way,” he says.

Akins says even if President Trump withdraws from the global pact, AEP is determined to continue the efforts of reducing carbon emissions and shifting away from coal. Why? Akins says that’s what AEP customers want, including the big ones like Walmart (WMT) and Amazon (AMZN). “They have expectations of being supplied by clean energy solutions, namely wind or solar-type activity,” Akins explains. “And we want to be responsive from that perspective.”