PUCO approves AEP Ohio’s gridSMART Phase 2

COLUMBUS, Ohio — The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) today approved AEP Ohio’s gridSMART Phase 2 project.

“The PUCO is excited to see this project move forward,” state PUCO Chairman Asim Z. Haque. “AEP Ohio’s smart grid deployment will lead to significant customer benefits including increased reliability, efficiency and market enhancements.”

During AEP Ohio’s gridSMART Phase 2, the utility will:

Install advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) for approximately 894,000 customers. AMI can lead to monetary savings for customers by providing cost, consumption and savings information. The utility expects installation to be completed within four years.
Install volt/VAR optimization (VVO) technology on 160 circuits. VVO technology provides energy efficiency benefits by reducing excessive voltage levels on the distribution grid. The utility expects installation to be completed within six years.
Install distribution automation circuit reconfiguration (DACR) technology on 250 distribution circuits. DACR technology can reduce the extent and duration of outages while providing maintenance and safety benefits. Priority will be given to the worst performing circuits in recent years. The utility expects installation to be completed within six years.
On April 7, 2016, a settlement was reached between AEP Ohio, PUCO staff, the Interstate Gas Supply Inc., Ohio Hospital Association, Retail Energy Supply Association, the Environmental Law & Policy Center, Direct Energy, FirstEnergy Solutions Corp and Environmental Defense Fund. On Dec. 21, 2016 the Ohio Consumers’ Counsel formally dropped its opposition to the plan.

The PUCO will perform an annual audit to ensure operational savings related to gridSMART upgrades are credited to the overall program costs.

In a separate proceeding, the Commission authorized AEP Ohio to implement a one-time charge of $43 and a monthly charge of $24 for customers who opt-out of having an AMI meter installed.