AES Ohio proposes $682M more in electric grid advances; customer bills would rise

Company says investments are necessary and outage times are shrinking; consumer advocate says despite charging millions, AES has missed standard 4 of past 5 years



AES Ohio is proposing $682.7 million in spending to improve its electric grid infrastructure and a corresponding $2.99 per month increase to the average customer’s bill, moves that would require approval by the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio.

AES Corp., the parent company for AES Ohio, filed a Phase 2 plan with PUCO to upgrade its smart grid infrastructure, proposing the work over a 10-year period on the heels of the first phase, which ends June 2025.

The $2.99 per month increase is based on a customer using 1,000 kilowatt hours of electricity per month. The average customer uses 750 to 1,000 kilowatt hours. To take effect, the plan would have to be approved by PUCO after several hearings.

“We have a commitment to our customers and community to ensure the reliability and resiliency of our grid by making needed modernization investments,” said Ken Zagzebski, president and CEO, AES Utilities. “With the successful deployment of smart meters and mid-line reclosers in Smart Grid Phase 1, customers are benefitting from fewer outages and decreased restoration times.”

The company said a cost-benefit analysis showed the benefits of the proposal outweigh the cost increase to customers.

The Ohio Consumers’ Counsel, the statewide legal representative that advocates for Ohio’s residents in utility matters, is less certain.

Four out of the past five years, AES Ohio has failed to meet PUCO’s minimum reliability standards on how long consumers may be without utility service, the OCC said. AES failed to meet the Customer Average Interruption Duration Index standard (CAIDI) in 2017, 2019, 2020, 2021 and 2022.

“In four of the last five years, AES Ohio has failed consumers when it comes to providing reliable service, despite charging its consumers millions of dollars for grid modernization,” said Ohio Consumers’ Counsel Maureen Willis. “Here comes round two where AES is seeking even more money from consumers in the name of grid modernization. We will be closely examining AES’s request to increase rates to its consumers.”

If AES receives PUCO authorization, it could start Phase 2 in June 2025 when Phase 1 ends, meaning cost increases could start around that same time.

For updates on the PUCO hearing schedule, visit and search for the case number 24-0112-EL-GRD.

There are three principal improvement components of AES Ohio’s second phase, the company said, including automation of distribution operations, advanced grid intelligence, and telecommunications and cybersecurity.

These improvements would increase reliability, result in fewer outages, and reduce the outage duration time for restoration, said Mary Ann Kabel, director of corporate communications at AES Ohio. They also would improve system stability, performance and communication capabilities, she said.

“The Smart Grid 2 plan is a critical step to an integrated grid and creating meaningful capability improvements that add value to our customers,” said Zagzebski.

AES Ohio said it will continue to have the lowest rates among the Ohio investor-owned utilities in the state. PUCO’s Energy Choice Ohio shows this is accurate for AES Ohio’s qualifying electric heating residential customers, but costs vary between other companies for customers who don’t qualify for those rates.

There are four investor-owned utility companies in Ohio — AES Ohio, Duke Energy, First Energy, and AEP Ohio.

Price comparisons, according to PUCO’s Energy Choice Ohio:

  • AES Ohio’s typical residential “Price to Compare” for the generation supply portion of residents’ bills for the period of June 1, 2023 to May 31, 2024 is $0.1080709/kWh.
  • For AES Ohio’s qualifying electric heating residential customers, that cost for the period of Nov. 1, 2023 to May 31, 2024 is $0.0917822/kWh.
  • Duke’s residential generation supply cost for the period of Feb. 1, 2024 to Feb. 29, 2024 is $0.0971/kWh.
  • AEP’s residential generation supply cost for the period of Jan. 1, 2024 to March 31, 2024 is $0.1132/kWh.
  • First Energy’s Ohio Edison Company residential generation supply cost for the period Jan. 1, 2024 through March 31, 2024 is $0.1011/kWh.
  • First Energy’s Illuminating Company residential generation supply cost for the period of Jan. 1, 2024 through March 31, 2024 is $0.0998/kWh.
  • First Energy’s Toledo Edison Company’s residential generation supply cost for the period of Jan. 1, 2024 through March 31, 2024 is $0.1045/kWh (for the three First Energy options, prices may vary for qualifying electric heating customers).

In late 2021, AES Ohio started installing “smart meters” in area homes as part of its $267 million Phase 1 improvements. The company said the new digital technology would allow two-way communication between the utility and its 1.25 million customers.

That first phase cost customers who use 1,000 kilowatts of electricity a month an estimated 94-cent increase in monthly bills, according to the estimate AES Ohio offered PUCO.

For more information on the smart grid updates, visit

The public can file comments with PUCO on any pending case at anytime by visiting Correspondences should reference case number 24-112-EL-GRD. The PUCO call center can be reached at (800) 686-7826.

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