Power: Cooking with Electricity

In the electric utility business, which measures its costs in mills and its profits in millions, the American Electric Power Co. has become the biggest producer of all by serving small-town America. Stretching from southwestern Michigan through the rich Ohio Valley to depressed Appalachia, it serves nearly 2,400 towns, only four of which have a population as high as 100,000. A.E.P. has prospered mainly because it has invested wisely in new technology, and thus has been able to drop its rates to one-sixth below the national average for private utilities. This week, in a fallout-proof red brick building at Canton,...

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