New AES Ohio plan would raise monthly costs by $4 after 3 years

An operating plan filed by electric utility AES Ohio would, if approved, impose new costs on a residential customer using 750 kilowatt hours (kWh) a month of less than $1, as an “initial impact” — before rising to $4 a month in new costs, the utility said late Monday.

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, the average U.S. residential customer uses about 909 kWh per month. In Ohio, the average is closer to 892 kWh a month.

AES Ohio, the former Dayton Power & Light, filed its latest Electric Security Plan (also called an “ESP”) with the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) late Monday.

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The projected increased cost of less than $1 per month would be the plan’s “initial impact,” AES Ohio said. A company spokeswoman said the plan’s “projected impact across the three-year term of the ESP is about $4 a month for an AES Ohio residential customer using 750 kWh.” The Dayton Daily News requested an interview with company leaders about the plan.

The company’s ESP is a “comprehensive plan to enhance and upgrade its network and improve service reliability, provide greater safeguards for price stability and continue investments in local economic development,” the company said in a release.

Mark Vest, senior director of Ohio transmission and distribution for AES U.S. Services, said in testimony filed with the PUCO that 45% of AES Ohio’s substations are more than 30 years old, while 24% are over 50 years old. Over 45% of AES Ohio’s distribution poles are more than 40 years old, 35% are over 50 years old, Vest said in a filing with the state.

Robert Adams, the company’s rates manager, testified that AES Ohio’s transmission and distribution rates are the lowest in Ohio, and “will remain the lowest even including the impact of the company’s proposed ESP.”

“We understand, first and foremost, our customers want reliable service while maintaining affordable rates,” AES Ohio President and Chief Executive Kristina Lund said in a statement from the company. “With the lowest distribution rates in Ohio, this plan provides a mechanism to strengthen reliability well into the future and protect our customers from volatile market-driven cost impacts.”

The plan has energy efficiency programs for residential and low-income customers, which include ways to save by using “smart” thermostat technology, the utility said. And it includes “new pricing incentives” to promote the growth of local businesses, the company said.

“This plan is thoughtfully designed to best serve our customers, reaffirms our commitment to the community and accelerates the future of energy,” Lund said.

The process for considering a newly filed ESP involves consideration by PUCO staff members, who make a recommendation to commission members. There will be formal evidentiary hearings before the commission votes on the plan, a PUCO spokesman said.

“AES has bad timing for asking the PUCO to approve another electric rate increase for its Dayton-area consumers,” the office of the Ohio Consumers Counsel said in a statement. “Consumers already are facing soaring energy prices, high inflation and a possible recession.”

AES Ohio provides electric transmission and distribution service to more than 527,000 customers across its 6,000 square mile service territory in west central Ohio.

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