Emily Bacha, Vice President of Public Affairs, July 13, 2022
Columbus, OH — The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) questioned AEP Ohio and regional transmission organization PJM about the causes behind AEP Ohio’s June blackouts today. Record high temperatures caused dangerous conditions for communities across Ohio, following a series of major storms, in mid-June. These extreme weather events contributed to more than 230,000 AEP customers losing power in Central Ohio creating additional hardship for families.
The following response can be attributed in full or in part to Nolan Rutschilling, Managing Director of Energy Policy for the Ohio Environmental Council (OEC):
“While today’s hearing provided some explanation for the AEP Ohio blackouts, many questions remain unanswered. The OEC joins the Ohio Consumers’ Counsel and other consumer advocates calling for a full investigation of the blackouts, led by an independent third party. Utility-led community workshops and internal reviews are no substitute for a public, transparent process. AEP Ohio does not get to decide whether or not they are liable to customers. Ohio law leaves that decision to the PUCO.
“During the hearing, AEP Ohio acknowledged climate change and extreme weather events as driving factors behind June’s outages. We know similar storms and heat waves will only happen with more frequency over the next century. If we do not equitably upgrade our grid, Black and Brown communities will continue to bear the brunt of climate change and future outages. This is unacceptable, and it’s not the only energy justice issue communities face. In addition to weather-influenced outages, AEP Ohio led utilities in the state in shutoffs over the last year, with one in 12 customers having their power shut off due to payment issues.
“This hearing proves the need for equitably distributed renewable energy. AEP Ohio admitted they have no local energy sources to rely on near many of the communities hurt by the forced outages. This over reliance on a small number of large polluting power plants is the direct result of decades of lobbying from fossil fuel interests and utilities to suppress distributed renewable energy generation. By keeping outdated coal plants open and discouraging distributed solar and wind, AEP Ohio and other companies create a dirtier and less reliable grid for Ohioans.”
Click here for OEC’s June 15 press statement: Record Heatwave, Power Outages Demonstrate Need for Forward-Thinking Ohio Climate Policy.
The Ohio Environmental Council (OEC) is the state’s most comprehensive, effective and respected environmental advocate for a healthier, more sustainable Ohio. The OEC develops and ensures the implementation of forward-thinking, science-based, pragmatic solutions to secure healthy air, land, and water for all who call Ohio home.
Media Inquires: ebacha<at>theoec.org