GAHANNA, Ohio, June 1, 2020 – AEP Ohio, an American Electric Power (NYSE: AEP) company, today submitted to the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) a request to update the base rates charged to customers for delivering electricity to homes and business. AEP Ohio was required to initiate this process under a 2018 agreement between regulators and other groups. However, due to the economic uncertainty created by the COVID-19 pandemic, AEP Ohio has also requested that the PUCO delay the case’s procedural schedule. Under the extended timeline, customers would not see any changes to base rates until mid-2021.
“We understand that our state and our customers are just beginning to recover from the economic impacts of COVID-19. The delay we have requested will give the economy more time to bounce back before any rate changes go into effect,” said Raja Sundararajan, AEP Ohio president and chief operating officer. “Reliable electric service has been critical to helping our customers during the state’s stay-at-home period. Our work to replace and upgrade aging equipment and trim trees that could fall into power lines has helped us keep the lights on. The rate case will ensure that we are able to continue to invest in these reliability efforts and also offer our customers new services.”
The key element of the proposal is to continue to improve the reliability AEP Ohio’s distribution system. AEP Ohio is responsible for nearly 44,000 miles of distribution lines throughout its service territory. Through activities like proactive equipment replacement, preventative maintenance and tree trimming it has reduced the frequency and length of outages. The rate case proposal submitted today focuses on continuing these efforts to further improve reliability for customers.
The filing also includes proposals to update streetlights and area lights leased by customers to more efficient and customizable LED fixtures; offer municipalities additional payment options for converting overhead service to underground; allow residential customers to pay their bill using a credit card without incurring additional processing fees; and enhance AEP Ohio’s Demand Side Management (DSM) efforts, which helps customers reduce energy bills.
The requested adjustment would result in a $2.20 per month increase for a typical residential customer using 1,000 kilowatt-hours per month. If the request for a delayed procedural schedule is granted, customers would not see any changes to base rates until mid-2021.
AEP Ohio has made significant investments in recent years to improve the electric distribution grid and enhance reliability for customers. Under the DSM proposal, AEP Ohio would invest in programs that optimize the use of the distribution system. These investments would include using technology, building on AEP Ohio’s gridSMART program, to help customers reduce the peak demand on the distribution system. Other programs would include incentives that make the use of energy more efficient and providing load management for commercial and industrial customers. By smoothing out peaks on the system, overall costs are reduced and the grid is more efficient.
In addition, AEP Ohio also proposes to build on the success of the Electric Vehicle Charging Incentive program previously approved by the PUCO. In 2018, AEP Ohio implemented a program providing $9.5 million in incentives to help local governments, workplaces and locations in low-income areas install EV charging stations. Almost all of the available funds have been committed to projects and nearly 200 stations funded through the program are operational. The interest in the program demonstrates the growing demand for EV charging and the AEP Ohio DSM plan includes programs that will ensure the electric grid is able to handle the added demand EV charging will create. These proposals include off-peak charging, fleet electrification programs, and ensuring charging is available near highways and other highly traveled roads.
Complete case documents can be found on the PUCO’s website under case number 20-585-EL-AIR.