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Economy and Business

AEP pushes to expand its SmartGrid to dozens more Ohio communities
Customers would pay about $2 a month more for five years

Andy Chow
In The Region:

American Electric Power  wants to install new equipment to enhance its smart grid technology. But as Statehouse correspondent Andy Chow reports, the upgrade comes at a price.

LISTEN: AEP pushes for approval of SmartGrid expansion

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Revamping equipment on the utility grid is supposed to improve reliability and efficiency. That’s the message from American Electric Power Ohio as it proposes Phase 2 of its smart grid project.

Here are the cities that would be affected by the SmartGrid's second phase.

Athens, Bucyrus, Cambridge, Canton, Chillicothe, Circleville, Columbus and its suburbs, Coshocton, East Liverpool, Findlay, Fostoria, Fremont, Gallipolis, Hillsboro, Ironton, Kenton, Lancaster, Lima, Marietta, Nelsonville, Newark, New Philadelphia, Portsmouth, Southpoint/Chesapeake, Steubenville, Tiffin, Upper Sandusky, Van Wert, Waverly, Wooster and Zanesville.

Expanding the grid basically means AEP wants to upgrade with high-tech equipment. For example, Phase 2 would bring advanced metering to about 900,000 more customers. The meters deliver real-time readings and customer usage information without a meter-reader visiting your house.

According to AEP, the other devices it plans to install would speed up restoration, cut down on outages and improve energy efficiency.

Plans for Phase 2 have been submitted to the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio. Approval would expand the smart grid technology to two-thirds of AEP’s customers, spreading from central Ohio east and southeast.

The upgrade does come with a price. Under the proposal, the average AEP customer would pay about $2 more a month for the next five years. Terri Flora with AEP Ohio says this is a good investment for customers.

“We had a lot of different technologies that we had planned on testing and seeing how they work and throughout that project we figured out that these three rose to the top as to having the greatest benefit not only to AEP but to our customers in terms of reliability and information to help manage electricity.”

AEP hopes the PUCO will approve the proposal by the end of the year. It would then take about four years to completely install and implement Phase 2. 

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