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Lawmakers demand answers from AEP Ohio over emergency outages

Gov. Mike DeWine issued a statement on Thursday saying PUCO will conduct an investigation into the widespread outages.

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Ohio lawmakers say AEP Ohio needs to come clean about when it was ordered to load shed during last week's storm and why certain neighborhoods were targeted over others.

The letter, dated June 16, was sent to AEP President and COO Marc Reitter and signed by nine Democrats including Minority Leader Allison Russo (D-Upper Arlington) who said she lost power for two days.

"We want to know how these neighborhoods were chosen for these blackouts ... Were there alternatives to spread this out so that certain neighborhoods wouldn't have to bear the brunt of this," Russo said.

10TV spoke to two of the lawmakers who signed the letter along with a spokesperson for the Ohio Consumers' Counsel which is calling for an independent investigation.

"It is absolutely unacceptable on the hottest day of the year there are situations where people are going for two days without power and not having advance notice," said State Representative Kristin Boggs (D-Columbus).

"We think it's really important for the PUCO not to let AEP investigate themselves. We think an event of this magnitude where so many people were harmed calls for a very serious review, " said J.P. Blackwood, spokesperson for the  Ohio Consumers' Counsel.

The letter to AEP also calls into question whether HB6, the power plant bailout law played a role.

Under the bill, it eliminated the energy efficiency program for large Ohio companies. Lawmakers question whether the disincentive added to the stressor on the electrical grid.

An AEP spokesperson told 10TV they are working with the Minority Leaders' office to respond to these questions.

On June 21, Gov. Mike DeWine issued a statement saying the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio will "conduct a review of all Ohio’s electric utilities related to electric power outages following storms that occurred on June 13th and actions that those utilities may or may not have taken."

DeWine said that many questions need to be answered such as:

  • What steps are Ohio’s utilities taking to ensure that the significant disruption Ohioans experienced last week does not occur again? 
  • Why certain central Ohio neighborhoods lost power and others did not?
  • Why certain northeast Ohio communities took the better part of a week to come back online?
  • Did utilities do enough to communicate to their customers ahead of planned power shut offs to protect the grid, especially when electronic communications cannot be accessed without electricity?

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