AEP Ohio, an American Electric Power company, says it has received approval of its Electric Security Plan (ESP) from the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO). The ESP allows AEP Ohio to expand access to renewable generation and electric vehicle (EV) charging, while continuing to enhance distribution grid reliability.
The ESP also offers customers rate stability through 2024. More than a dozen groups had signed onto the agreement approved today by the PUCO.
“Our customers want reliability and access to advanced technologies, such as EV charging stations, microgrids and renewable energy resources,” said Julie Sloat, AEP Ohio president and chief operating officer. “Our plan allows us to bring these services, which also will support economic development in Ohio, to customers across the state. The ESP enables us to continue our investments in the electric grid to provide reliable power and help advance the new technologies and cleaner energy that our customers want.”
As a result of the ESP, a typical residential customer using 1,000 kilowatt-hours per month will see an average bill increase of less than 50 cents per month.
AEP Ohio has made significant investments in recent years to improve the electric distribution grid and enhance reliability for customers. The plan approved by the PUCO allows AEP Ohio to continue its vegetation management program, which has reduced the number of outages caused by trees within rights-of-way by 88 percent since 2010.
The ESP includes expansion of smart technologies that help improve reliability, such as automated equipment that can route power around a problem, and the development of microgrids to maintain power in areas where critical public service facilities such as police and fire stations, hospitals and emergency shelters are located.
A program to expand EV charging station availability will be created as part of the Smart Columbus initiative. The project creates a rebate incentive program for the hardware, network services, and installation of charging infrastructure for up to 300 level 2 charging stations and 75 DC Fast charging stations. The $10 million program offers rebates for site owners to install charging stations, with 10 percent of the stations to be located in low-income areas.
Site owners can apply to AEP Ohio to recoup a portion of their initial construction costs. Rebate amounts vary depending on the type of station being built, the availability of the charging station to the general public and whether the owner is a public or private entity. Government buildings, apartment complexes, workplaces and others are eligible to apply for rebates. Program details and applications are under development.
The EV charging program and microgrid projects are funded by the Smart City Rider, a new charge that will end in four years. These programs will provide AEP Ohio, the PUCO and others with information that will inform the expansion of these technologies throughout the state.
The ESP also supports the PUCO’s Power Forward initiative through a rider that enables AEP Ohio to implement future recommendations made by the PUCO.
Expansion of wind and solar resources in the state also is supported the ESP. AEP Ohio has committed to develop 400 MW of solar and 500 MW of wind power in Ohio. The approved ESP provides a method for AEP Ohio to request approval from the PUCO for the development of new renewable resources. The ESP also allows for some, or all, of that power to be purchased through a bilateral contract with a customer.
“Companies are increasingly evaluating the availability of renewable energy when they are looking to locate or expand their business. Having access to renewable resources helps make Ohio more attractive to businesses,” Sloat said.
Impacts of the recent federal tax reform legislation are not directly addressed in the ESP. Several costs that contribute to a customer’s bill currently are being adjusted to account for tax savings. The PUCO has a separate process underway to ensure that the benefits of tax reform are realized by customers of all Ohio utilities. AEP Ohio is committed to working with the PUCO to ensure that customers benefit from the changes included in tax reform.
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