COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – Months before the power went out for hundreds of thousands of Ohioans after last week’s storms, AEP Ohio was working on improvements in some of the areas that were most impacted.
According to AEP, there’s no way to know for sure whether the improvements would have helped keep power flowing to customers last week.
Power had to be shut off to hundreds of thousands of customers after storms damaged transmission lines and high temperatures forced the lines that were still standing to overload.
Every year, utilities are required to send improvement plans to the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio. AEP’s most recent report was submitted last year.
That report proposed hundreds of millions of dollars in improvement through 2024, including a $38 million project at the substation on Shannon Road in Columbus, and rebuilding some lines in Mount Vernon that were already overloading.
Joshua Herald, a former engineer with AEP, said if these improvements were to have a significant impact on making the grid more resilient to bad weather, they would have to be completed much faster.
“There are just so many transmission lines and distribution circuits out there that any one project isn’t going to be the magic bullet,” Herald said. “But it’s rather a shift in culture and operational attitudes toward making those repairs to all the parts of the grid.”
A spokesperson for AEP Ohio said the utility is continually evaluating its infrastructure and planning projects to make it more resilient.
Gov. Mike DeWine on Tuesday called on the Public Utilities Commission to get more details from AEP on how the company is working to prevent future outages similar to what was experienced last week.