State schedules AES Ohio ‘smart grid’ and rates case for rulings next week

AES Ohio's battery storage facility is at Tait Station, a combustion turbine and diesel generator facility located in Dayton.
AES Ohio's battery storage facility is at Tait Station, a combustion turbine and diesel generator facility located in Dayton.

State regulators have scheduled a hearing in cases involving electric utility AES Ohio, the former Dayton Power & Light.

A hearing by members of the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio, or PUCO, is set for 1:30 p.m. Wednesday Columbus. It can be viewed on the commission’s You Tube channel (https://www.youtube.com/user/PUCOhio.)

Among the matters before the commission: AES Ohio has applied to install “smart grid” technology in its service area, a sweeping set of changes that would entail spending up to $267 million in capital investments in the project’s early phase, a regulatory matters manager for DP&L’s corporate owner has told PUCO.

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According to the plan, AES Ohio would invest $77.6 million in “smart meters,” with nearly every customer getting one, and would build what an AES Ohio manager called a “self-healing grid,” a $109 million investment in “self-healing” technologies, including distribution automation, substation automation and advanced distribution management.

The plan will mean higher rates, an increase of 94 cents for the average residential customer using 1,000 kWh (kilowatt-hours) on AES Ohio’s “standard service offer.” Electricity usage is calculated in kWh, or 1,000 watts used for one hour. As one example, a 100-watt light bulb on for ten hours uses one kilowatt-hour.

Also slated to be taken up: The Office of the Ohio Consumers’ Counsel’s (OCC) writ of procedendo before the Ohio Supreme Court, as well as the commission’s reply to that writ.

AES Ohio has asked the Ohio Supreme Court to let it intervene as a respondent in that case, which originated in mid-April, with the consumers’ office asking the Supreme Court to force the PUCO to issue a final ruling in a case on AES electric rates.

AES Ohio was not named in the original filing, which the OCC directed at members of the PUCO.

The PUCO “is denying consumers justice through its 15-month delay in deciding OCC’s pending application for rehearing,” the OCC argued in a May 17 filing.

The PUCO has moved to dismiss the OCC’s complaint, arguing that the pandemic has delayed matters and that the OCC hasn’t shown a clear legal right to require the commission to proceed.

“OCC has an adequate remedy in the ordinary course of law,” the PUCO said in its response filed with the court last month. “The commission will issue an entry on rehearing in the underlying case, and once that occurs, the OCC will have the opportunity to appeal.”

After 110 years as Dayton Power & Light, the Dayton area’s electric utility changed its name to “AES Ohio” in February.

AES Ohio serves more than 527,000 customer accounts, representing 1.25 million people in West Central Ohio. The company saw annual revenue in 2018 of $763.3 million. Its service area covers 24 counties within 6,000 square miles.