COLUMBUS: Customers of American Electric Power could see an estimated 6 to 7 percent increase in their monthly bills during the first year of a new pricing plan that Ohio utility regulators approved Wednesday.
The changes come as the Columbus company transitions from decades as a regulated monopoly to a player in a competitive market.
The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio decided at its Wednesday meeting to freeze AEP’s base generation rate, which typically makes up the largest portion of a customer’s monthly bill. But customers will still see an increase to their bills starting in September because of other fees in the newly approved pricing plan and variables such as fuel costs.
The 6 to 7 percent increase to monthly utility bills is only an estimate for the first year. Commission chairman Todd Snitchler said it’s not yet known what the increases to customers’ bills will be in the remaining two years of the plan.
Snitchler told reporters he couldn’t provide a dollar amount because certain fees attached to bills would be determined by the new competitive market.
But no resident, business or other customer would be responsible for paying more than a 12 percent rate increase in their bill during the three-year period the plan is in effect, he said.
If regulators see abnormalities in customers’ bills, Snitchler said, the commission could go in and make additional adjustments to the rate plan.
The commission, which is tasked with regulating public utility service, had approved a separate pricing plan for AEP in December. The agency later revoked the plan in February after weeks of criticism from customers, including some school districts that said it nearly doubled their electric bills. One small company had complained of an increase of about $28,000 in annual electric bills.
American Electric Power is one of the largest electric utilities in the United States, delivering electricity to more than 5 million customers in 11 states.