AEP Ohio, a unit of American Electric Power, received approval from the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio to implement its gridSMART Phase 2 Plan.
The plan includes the installation of 894,000 smart meters in 31 communities throughout Ohio over the next four years.
In addition to smart meters, AEP Ohio will expand the use of automated equipment on its distribution system to reduce restoration times, reduce the number of customers affected when power outages occur and allow crews to work more safely. The company also will utilize technology, known as Volt Var Optimization, which reduces energy usage without any action required by the customer.
"These advanced grid technologies will give our customers information to better manage their energy use and save money, while enabling AEP Ohio to improve the quality and reliability of service for our customers," said Julie Sloat, AEP Ohio president and chief operating officer. "This plan expands our successful gridSMART demonstration project and allows us to reduce the number, size and duration of outages for customers, cut energy consumption and decrease operational costs."
The gridSMART Phase 2 plan follows a pilot program that began in 2009 in northeast central Ohio. As part of that project, AEP Ohio installed 132,000 smart meters and outfitted 70 electric distribution circuits with equipment to reduce the extent and duration of outages and 17 circuits with equipment to improve efficiency.
Smart meters provide multiple benefits to customers, including more information and control over their energy usage and virtually eliminating estimated meter readings. Smart meters also can detect and report outage information to AEP Ohio so crews can restore power faster. The completion of phase 2 will bring more than 1 million smart meters to AEP Ohio's service territory.
Over the next six years AEP Ohio will install automated reclosers on 250 circuits. Automated reclosers provide crews with more information to identify the cause of outages and can operate themselves to route power around a problem.
AEP Ohio also will use Volt Var Optimization technology that allows for the adjustment of voltage levels. Slight variations in voltage can reduce energy usage by 2 to 3 percent and lower customer bills without any change in a customer's equipment or behavior. This technology will be installed on 160 circuits.