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Proposed AEP Ohio rate increase draws criticism from consumer advocates


Earlier this month, AEP Ohio announced plans for another rate increase that the company said will pay for reliability-focused improvements to the electric grid.

Under the plan, rates will go up about $1.50 a month or an average annual increase of less than 1% for the average residential customer.

Maureen Willis, legal director for the Ohio Consumers' Counsel, said the ask is too expensive.

"It's a lot of money," Willis said. "Consumers deserve reliable service, but also at reasonable rates. And we don't think that it's reasonable, given the type of reliability we're getting from AEP to collect $2.8 billion in the next six years."

Willis explained most of the rate increase would likely go toward distribution investment — lines, poles and transformers — and also tree trimming.

Storms in June 2022took down over 350 poles and 2,100 wires, followed by several days with temperatures above 90 degrees. AEP then cut power to customers in various neighborhoods to prevent overloads on working transmission lines.

"If you're getting more money for distribution investment, your service should be getting better. It's not," Willis said.

AEP failed to make someone available for an interview.

Ultimately, the rate increase will require approval from the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio.

Matthew Rand is the Morning Edition host for 89.7 NPR News. Rand served as an interim producer during the pandemic for WOSU’s All Sides daily talk show.