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Regulators approve expansion of AEP Ohio's energy efficiency programs

The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio issued an order Jan. 18 that allows AEP Ohio, the trade name of American Electric Power Co. Inc. utility Ohio Power Co., to continue and expand its energy efficiency and peak demand reduction programs through 2020.

The commission, however, also adopted a $110 million annual cap on program costs.

AEP Ohio will offer a variety of programs, such as rebates and incentives, appliance recycling and weatherization assistance, to help its residential and business customers cut their energy demand.

The commission-approved stipulation was signed on Dec. 9, 2016, by AEP Ohio and 13 intervening parties, including PUCO staff, the Environmental Defense Fund, the Environmental Law & Policy Center, Natural Resources Defense Council, Ohio Energy Group, Ohio Manufacturers' Association and Ohio Partners for Affordable Energy.

The stipulation extended the term of the energy efficiency plan from three years to four years, running from Jan. 1, 2017, through Dec. 31, 2020. The stipulation also proposed the annual cost cap of $110.3 million for the plan, which covers program costs and shared savings.

"The addition of an annual cost cap is a reasonable response to concerns which have been raised regarding potential increases in the costs of the EE/PDR programs, and the annual cost cap should incent AEP Ohio to manage the costs of the programs in the most efficient manner possible," PUCO said in its order.

AEP Ohio also will continue to bid energy efficiency and peak demand reduction programs into PJM Interconnection LLC auctions, passing through 80% of revenues from plan programs through its EE/PDR Rider and retaining 20% of revenues. (PUCO docket 16-574-EL-POR)