AEP Ohio to Continue Reliability Improvements, Upgrades Under Proposed Plan
Written by WKTN Staff on January 10, 2023
GAHANNA, Ohio – AEP Ohio, an American Electric Power (Nasdaq: AEP) company, filed an Electric Security Plan (ESP) application with the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio that continues AEP Ohio’s commitment to reliability, innovation and offering programs that help customers reduce their energy use and save money. AEP Ohio’s plan would invest $2.2 billion in reliability-focused projects over the six-year ESP term.
“We understand that our customers expect us to provide reliable power, and the proposal we have developed outlines our strategy for electric grid investments that build on the work we are doing today,” said Marc Reitter, AEP Ohio president and chief operating officer. “Our plan focuses on meeting our customers’ expectations. We have already invested in reliability improvements and that work is producing benefits for customers. But we need to do more focused work and we need to do it more quickly as we plan for rapid economic growth, increasing customer expectations and hardening the grid to withstand stronger storms. More than 5,500 miles of power lines and hundreds of pieces of substation equipment will be replaced under the proposal. We understand the electric service we provide is essential in our customers’ lives, and we believe the planned investment under our proposal will deliver significant benefits.”
Aging equipment across the system including 350 transformers, 475 breakers and 560 regulators in substations across the state will reach the end of their expected lives within the next decade. Additionally, 247 circuits where customers have experienced 5 or more outages per year over the last 3 years have been identified. These circuits will be improved through equipment upgrades, by being rebuilt, or reconfiguring how power flows to improve reliability.
New lines and substations will be built to meet the evolving needs of AEP Ohio customers while at the same time supporting bringing new businesses to the state to grow the economy.
A Community Resiliency Pilot program would test the use of a backup generator that could help supply power when large powerlines are not able to bring power into an area. Additionally, batteries would be installed at substations to supply power while crews make repairs. These would help determine the best method to reduce the impact of outages in vulnerable rural and urban communities.
The ESP proposes several energy efficiency programs for residential customers, programs designed to help low-income customers benefit from energy efficiency, and a Senior Discount Program that would give qualifying customers 65 years of age or older a $5 discount off their monthly customer charge.
In addition, AEP Ohio is proposing to build on the successful Electric Vehicle Charging Program approved in the previous ESP. Through that program, more than 350 charging stations were installed by local governments, business and at multi-unit housing. More than 20% of these stations are located in low-income areas. The ESP would continue a similar program and provide incentives for residential customers who agree to charge vehicles during times when power demand is lower.
Technology that makes the power grid smarter and more reliable plays a critical role in AEP Ohio’s plan. AEP Ohio’s fiber optic data network ensures that grid operators have access to the real-time information they need. AEP Ohio is proposing to offer internet providers in underserved or unserved areas access to its fiber optic network in order to provide broadband service. Any federal grants and payments from internet companies would be credited to AEP Ohio customers.
These new and innovative proposals are being made in addition to continuing the distribution grid maintenance and upgrades that are necessary to meet the needs of AEP Ohio customers.
If approved as a filed, customers would see an average monthly increase of about 2%, or about $4, each year of the ESP term.