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AEP Ohio Offers Green Energy Option

American Electric Power's Ohio division wants customers to sign up for its optional Green Power Pricing program. By paying extra, consumers support the production of electricity from renewable, environmentally-friendly sources such as wind, methane and solar energy.

AEP Ohio bought the extra electricity from renewable energy producers and is selling it to residential customers in what it calls Green Product blocks. A block represents 100 kilowatt hours and sells for 70 cents above the normal charge. Kevin Walker is president of the company.

"This particular program is an additional cost to the consumer," Walker says. "We talked about a block being 70 cents so it's additional to what they're already paying. So the incentive is to encourage this kind of thing to happen across the country and hopefully there will be more incentives to purchase this kind of power."

In order to get its latest rate plan approved, AEP agreed to offer customers the chance to purchase green energy. The plan was developed by the company, the Public Utilities Commission and the Office of the Ohio Consumers' Council where Ryan Lippe is spokesman.

"A large part of the energy we're getting today in Ohio is not renewable," Lippe says. "Ohio is barely a blip on the map when it comes to products from resources from wind and solar. We need to change that."

Encouraging energy production from renewable sources, Lippe says, is another step toward energy independence. It means a smaller footprint left by the consumer, according to AEP's Kevin Walker. And it might even mean cheaper electricity in the decades to come. Ohio power companies do not as yet have mandates on how they generate electricity, but Ryan Lippe says such a plan should be considered.

"We need to make sure that we're not relying on one or two types of fuels in order to generate the predominance of our electricity," Lippe says. "So by diversifying and using concepts like wind, like solar, like biomass, we are looking at things like stabilizing customers' rates."

AEP Ohio president Kevin Walker says he's buying into the effort.

"I signed up for 200 kilowatts per month on my bill so that's two blocks at 70 cents each," Walker says. "So that's a $1.40 extra for me per month to purchase 200 kilowatts of green."

About 600 other customers have signed up since the program began September 1st.