COLUMBUS, OHIO (Dec. 1, 2021) – The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) today approved AEP Ohio’s gridSMART Phase 3 project.
“The Commission’s approval today will provide a constructive blueprint for the next phase of grid modernization of AEP Ohio’s distribution system,” stated PUCO Commissioner Daniel Conway. “The stipulation also provides a plan for unlocking benefits of those improvements on the customer side of the meter, a plan that we expect will leverage the investments in smart meters, so that customers can better control the manner in which they use their distribution services and obtain better and more value from the distribution system.”
During AEP Ohio’s gridSMART Phase 3, the utility will:
- Install advanced metering infrastructure (AMI), commonly called smart meters, for approximately 475,000 customers. AMI can lead to monetary savings for customers by providing cost, consumption and savings information.
- Install volt/VAR optimization (VVO) technology on 255 circuits. VVO technology provides energy efficiency benefits by reducing excessive voltage levels on the distribution grid.
- Implement enhancements for the authorized sharing of data with competitive energy suppliers to enable new retail rate offerings, including time-of-use rates.
The settlement limits potential charges to customers at approximately $332 million. The PUCO will perform annual financial audits and ensure operational savings related to gridSMART upgrades are credited to the overall program costs.
AEP Ohio will also provide $500,000 in rebates towards smart thermostats and contribute $250,000 to its Neighbor-to-Neighbor assistance program. Both will be funded by AEP Ohio shareholder funds, thus not paid for by customers.
On Oct. 27, 2021, a settlement was reached between PUCO staff, Ohio Consumers’ Counsel, AEP Ohio, Ohio Partners for Affordable Energy, Ohio Energy Group, Ohio Hospital Association, The Kroger Company, Interstate Gas Supply, Smart Thermostat Coalition, Mission: data, Industrial Energy Users-Ohio, Ohio Environmental Council, and Ohio Manufacturers’ Association Energy Group.