COLUMBUS, Ohio — Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) Chair Jennifer French said in a prepared statement on Wednesday that the agency will be "communicating with Ohio’s utilities to do an after-action review and determine what steps, if any, can be taken to avoid future occurrences" of significant power outages such as the one many in central Ohio has experienced this week.
French made the statement at a commission meeting.
Hundreds of thousands of AEP Ohio customers have experienced power outages this week amid a heat wave following storms Monday night into Tuesday morning.
In an update Wednesday evening, AEP Ohio said crews had made significant progress repairing damage to the transmission lines which will allow them to begin restoring power to substations and Columbus- area customers in the early morning hours on Thursday.
In an interview with 10TV, French said it would be premature on whether there would be any kind of penalty or fine from the after-action review.
During a news conference Wednesday, AEP's explanation for the power outages: storm damage from Monday night caused outages to high-voltage transmission lines. While repair work from those outages is ongoing, it created additional stress and overload on the local power grid, prompting AEP Ohio to forcibly remove customers from power.
The Office of the Ohio Consumers’ Counsel (OCC) is calling on PUCO to investigate AEP.
"In situations such as this where there has been a major power outage involving more than 100,000 Ohioans and their families, the PUCO should investigate to learn what happened and why – and for lessons learned. Given that many Ohioans have been at risk, the PUCO should allow the public to be heard in the process," wrote Merrilee Embs, Spokesperson for the OCC in a statement emailed to 10TV.
AEP said other areas affected by the power outage have the following estimated times of restoration:
- Marietta – 5 p.m. Thursday
- McConnelsville – 5 p.m. Thursday
- Pomeroy – 11:59 p.m. Thursday
- Chillicothe – Noon Friday
- Lucasville – Noon Friday
- Wellston – Noon Friday
- Belmont – 11 p.m. Friday
- Coshocton – 11 p.m. Saturday
- Mt. Vernon – 11:59 p.m. Friday
- Newark – 11:59 p.m. Thursday
- Zanesville – 4 p.m. Friday
- Steubenville – 10 p.m. Thursday
- New Philadelphia – 11 p.m. Saturday
- Wooster – 4 p.m. Saturday
- Bucyrus – 10 p.m. Thursday
- Findlay – 4 p.m. Thursday