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Court Rules AEP Can Shut Off Delinquent Accounts Remotely


State utility regulators have approved a request by American Electric Power to remotely disconnect the electricity of some Ohio customers who haven’t made payments.

The Wednesday ruling by the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio applies to 132,000 central-Ohio AEP customers with new smart meters. The new remote disconnection procedure will take effect in August.

The previous disconnect policy required a home visit to people who were late with payments. Some consumer advocates opposed to the change say it will lead to increased disconnections.

AEP says customers will still receive warnings before being disconnected. The company has also agreed not to remotely disconnect electricity for certain customers, including people who’ve demonstrated difficulty understanding utility bills, people with mental impairments and those who depend on medical equipment.