AEP Ties Some Outage Prevention to Rate Hike

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                AEP president and chief operating officer Pablo Vegas, in a press conference Thursday morning, tied part of power outage prevention to AEP’s current rate hike proposal.

                When asked what AEP can do to prevent future massive outages, Vegas noted that AEP needs to improve the reliability of its major distribution system and that the cost of those upgrades is part of AEP’s pending rate proposal.

                AEP currently has a rate hike proposal pending before the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO).  The AEP plan would lead to an average rate increase of about 5 percent in the first year, according to reports by the Columbus Dispatch.  

                A public hearing was held on the proposal on April 30.  The AEP plan has drawn criticism from several citizen groups and organizations.  It also is being opposed by FirstEnergy Company – one of AEP’s biggest competitors.

                Vegas also said that future major outages may be partially prevented by AEP escalating its “aggressive program of tree trimming.”  Vegas noted that AEP can only trim trees away from lines if those trees interfere with AEP’s right of way.

                However, Vegas noted that one of the biggest issues in massive power outages is limbs and trees getting into power lines and falling on power lines.

                Vegas also promised that after power is restored to AEP customers that the company will do a thorough analysis of how it has responded to the crisis and how the crisis could have possibly been minimized.