Common Staff Writer
Recently American Electric Power (AEP) said the severe storm of last summer cost them $61.8 million to restore services. AEP is now asking the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) for permission to pass that cost along to its customers with a two percent rate increase.
In July, Terri Flora, Director of Corporate Communications of AEP Ohio compared the damage costs to Hurricane Ike in 2008. At the time AEP did not have a good estimation of the costs of the storm.
“After Ike it was around $41-50 million for all of our restoration efforts. We were not allowed to recover that entire amount. We were allowed to recover about $28 million of that,” Flora said.
She said rates went up a few dollars on customer bills.
“There was not as may outages at the peak of Ike in comparison to this recent storm. At its peak there were 675,000 outages with this recent storm. With Ike, we had around 650,000,” Flora said. “There were differences with wind. With Ike the peak wind was 75 miles per hour. With this storm there was wind up to 90 miles per hour in some parts of the territory. With Ike we had about 372 circuits that were affected, with this storm we had 528.”
She said the big difference between the two storms was with the transmission infrastructure.
“With Ike we had about six structures affected. With this storm we had 683 structures effected by the storm,” Flora said.
According to Kim Carver, Director of Scioto County Emergency Management the storm knocked out power to 1,000 people.
“Residents reported some fairly good sized hail around the McDermott area. Winds got up to 50 miles per hour with that storm,” Carver said.
It was reported that if approved the cleanup cost would equate to about $3 additional dollars per customer.
Skip Riffe, Chairman of the Scioto County Commissioners said he would be opposed to such an increase.
“Personally speaking I would oppose it. AEP is a good company and I used to work for them back in the 80’s,” Riffe said.
According to AEP officials, if approved by the PUCO, the increase would be in effect for effect for a year.
The process moving forward according to Jason Gilham of the PUCO includes “they (AEP) have filed their application so, we’re in the stage now where we are waiting for our staff to put together their report and recommendations. Once our staff files their report that will set the timeline going forward.”
He said just because they applied for the $61.8 million does not mean AEP’s request will be granted.
“The commission will make the ultimate ruling. Just because that requested that much does not mean that’s what the company is going to recover,” Gilham said.
He said it does not rule out the possibility the could be able to recover the full amount.
Wayne Allen may be reached at 740-353-1151, or firstname.lastname@example.org