AEP Ohio strikes first new deal on rates, rates may go down

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, March 17, 2021

COLUMBUS (AP) — AEP Ohio said Friday that 13 parties, including some of its largest commercial and industrial customers and the state’s ratepayer watchdog, have signed off on a significant rate deal that also lowers rates slightly for residential customers.

Details of the settlement agreement have been filed with the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio, which must still approve the plan.

It calls for a decrease of 71 cents for a residential customer using 1,000 kWh per month, compared to the increase of $5.68 requested at the beginning of the process last June. The settlement also increases the monthly customer charge from $8.40 to $10, but the company said reductions in other rates offset that change.

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AEP Ohio last updated its base rates in 2011. New rates become effective 14 days after the PUCO approves the settlement.
Ohio Consumer’s Counsel Bruce Weston, who joined the PUCO staff and major customers including Walmart, Kroger and the Ohio Hospital Association in signing the deal, called the settlement “a good result for a million residential consumers of AEP.”

“Many consumers will see a slight rate decrease, instead of AEP’s originally proposed increase,” he said in a statement. “This result is especially important for Ohioans during the pandemic when so many are struggling with financial issues.”

Besides rates, the settlement secures commitments from AEP Ohio to continue to improve service delivery to customers, allowing the Columbus-based utility to expand and continue several programs addressing reliability and resiliency.

It has pledged as part of the agreement to pursue improvements over the next four years to help prevent power outages, make it safer and faster to restore service and help the electric grid operate more efficiently, the company said in a release.

The agreement calls for AEP Ohio to replace streetlights it owns throughout the state’s cities and townships with LED fixtures over five years; reduced rates for off-peak charging of electric vehicles; and a pilot program for providing benefits to customers who generate their own electricity.

“The agreement we have reached will allow us to continue our work to improve the reliability of the electric grid while offering innovative products and services to our customers,” Raja Sundararajan, the company’s president and chief operating officer, said.