Public Utilities Commission of Ohio to conduct power outage review of AEP
The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio says it will conduct a review of the widespread outages that left hundreds of thousands of American Electric Power customers without power this week.
AEP officials said at Tuesday’s 8 p.m. peak, nearly 250,000 customers across the state were without power, including 170,000 in Central Ohio.
Many of the outages were intentional, as AEP executives said they shut off power to large swatches of Columbus to prevent more extensive damage to the weakened grid. That followed Monday evening storm damage to transmission lines coming into the city.
Some residents have said the intentional outages seemed to be clustered in lower-income neighborhoods, while AEP officials say areas for targeted outages were selected based on weaknesses within the grid.
PUCO Chair Jennifer French said during a meeting Wednesday that the commission will be "communicating with Ohio's utilities to do an after-action review and determine what steps can be taken to avoid future occurrences."
The Office of the Ohio Consumers’ Counsel has called for the PUCO to conduct an independent investigation of AEP.
OCC spokesman J.P. Blackwood said they don't yet know the details of AEP's handling of the outage, and they need to be brought to light.
"Bring some experts to look at the facts, investigate the facts, look at what decisions were made, look at what happened, and see if we can learn some lessons from this incident, and maybe come out of it with better information about how to prevent something like this in the future," Blackwood said.
Blackwood said utilities are monopolies in Ohio, and because of that, the state has an obligation to oversee them and how they operate.