Bill Assistance for Eligible AEP Ohio Customers

Starting Monday, June 20, we are expanding the current bill assistance available through the Neighbor to Neighbor program. Current funding available through this program is $2.7 million. This special expanded assistance opportunity will provide eligible AEP Ohio customers in need with a grant applied directly to their bill, even if they are not currently past due. Customers can learn more and, if eligible, apply between June 20 and July 29, 2022 at AEPOhio.com/n2n while funds are available.

Franklin County Residents – Assistance Available Through Local Organizations

The extreme storms that hit June 13-14, followed by extremely hot weather, resulted in an emergency situation where power outages throughout Columbus had to be taken to prevent wider spread outages, which created challenges for many Franklin County communities. We’re partnering with various organizations, including Columbus Urban League, IMPACT Community Action, Lifecare Alliance and Mid-Ohio Food Collective, and are providing a financial contribution of $1 million funded by the AEP Ohio Fund of the Columbus Foundation that will be used to help respond to the impacts these residents experienced as a result of this highly unique event. The AEP Ohio Fund and the AEP Foundation have consistently supported non-profits that are providing support to our customers and communities.

These organizations will use these funds to expand or supplement the community support they currently provide. Each program may have its own eligibility requirements.

Mid-Ohio Food Collective – collects and distributes food to combat hunger throughout the region. You can find more information about eligibility requirements and available service locations at https://mofc.org/get-help/

LifeCare Alliance – assists older adults or medically challenged residents through a variety of programs including Meals on Wheels. More information can be found by visiting https://www.LifeCareAlliance.org or calling 614-278-3130.

Columbus Urban League – offers emergency rental and other housing assistance. More information is available at https://www.cul.org/

IMPACT Community Action – administers utility and housing assistance programs. You can learn more about their programs and eligibility requirements by visiting https://www.impactca.org/housing-crisis

In addition to the assistance opportunities created by the donation, residents also can seek assistance related to storm impacts through:

Previous Updates 

Overnight crews were able to restore power to the Columbus area. We are continuing to monitor the performance of our electrical system as temperatures rise. We ask that customers in the Columbus area reduce any unnecessary electric usage between the peak hours of noon and 7 p.m. today to help reduce the potential of further emergency outages. Simple steps like these can help:

  • Turning your thermostat up a few degrees
  • Closing the curtains
  • Avoiding doing laundry or washing dishes during that time
  • Turning off unnecessary lights or appliances

A new outage unrelated to storm damage is affecting some customers in the Clintonville area. The outage is the result of a piece of distribution equipment that needs to be repaired — crews have partially restored the outage and are working to restore the remaining customers.

In addition to high temperatures, today’s forecast is also showing the potential for storms this evening. We have crews ready to work on any outages that might occur if there are any impacts from these storms.

Crews have made significant progress repairing damage to the transmission lines that bring energy to the Columbus area. These repairs will allow our team to begin restoring power to substations and customers in the Columbus area beginning in the early morning hours. We expect that all customers who were impacted by the emergency outage will have their power restored by 5 AM on Thursday, June 16.

We expect that these repairs will allow the power grid in the Columbus area to operate as it normally would, even as temperatures rise. We will continue to monitor system performance throughout the day and provide updates as needed.

The forecast for Thursday includes high temperatures and the possibility of severe weather in the early evening hours. We do not know what, if any, impacts the weather may bring, but we have crews ready to work on any outages that might occur.

While crews continue to make progress on repairs, due to continued extreme temperatures, the electrical system will remain stressed until the damaged lines are returned to operation. Some customers affected by yesterday’s outages are experiencing new outages today as a result of our power lines becoming overloaded again.

Additional emergency outages may occur through Thursday for those customers previously affected. We ask that customers reduce any unnecessary electric usage between the peak hours of noon and 7 p.m. We also strongly encourage all customers to have back-up accommodations for their safety and well being in the event of further outages. Cooling centers are marked on our outage map at AEPOhio.com/OutageMap.

 

Frequently Asked Questions 

Why did AEP have to turn off my power?

Using emergency forced outages is something that electric companies do in emergency situations to reduce the risk of large scale outages to the electric grid. This action is always a last resort as we understand the impact and challenges to our customers who lose power.

There are a number of situations that can result in emergency forced outages. In this case, the electric transmission lines in specific areas of the AEP system were overloaded during the extreme heat as a result of other lines being out of service due to storm damage. Similar to kinking a garden hose and leaving the water on, if there is enough water pressure and the kink is strong enough, the hose could burst. If emergency actions were not taken, the lines could overload to the point of failure, causing catastrophic damage to the system as well as more widespread and extended customer outages.

How does AEP decide what customers to disconnect?

The homes and businesses that experienced the emergency outages were the ones served by overloaded transmission lines and were located throughout various parts of the city. The outages were not directed to particular communities but were caused by the grid conditions created by the storms and hot weather.

Why didn’t you tell customers they were going to be disconnected so they could prepare?

Unfortunately, there was not enough time to notify customers before taking the necessary actions to protect the grid on Tuesday, June 14. A complex computerized system managed by a team of highly skilled and certified professionals monitors, controls and analyzes the power grid every second of every day. At times, they must react to situations quickly to protect the system. Taking customers offline is always a last resort, but sometimes it is the only option available to preserve the power grid and prevent widespread damage and longer outages.

Why can’t AEP use rolling blackouts to address this issue?

There are some situations when outages can be rotated among different groups of customers. In this case, the affected transmission lines could not be brought back online until other lines that fed into the area were repaired from storm damage and returned to service. This eliminated the ability to rotate outages from one area to another. We worked around the clock to restore the damaged lines and get power back on to every customer.

Why were outages necessary in Columbus when the storms didn’t cause damage to power lines there?

During the June 13 storms, high winds caused severe damage to high-voltage transmission lines delivering power into the Columbus area. Power from these lines was automatically transferred to several other transmission lines to keep power flowing. On June 14, the hot weather conditions increased power demands, and the transmission lines that were still in service after the storm became overloaded. Power had to be taken off the overloaded transmission lines to prevent catastrophic failure of the larger grid.

Will this happen every time it gets hot?

We understand that customers are concerned about the potential for future power outages during the hot summer. Our transmission grid is planned, designed and built with redundancy and hardening to handle extreme temperatures. A unique set of circumstances led to the emergency forced outages – a powerful storm that caused significant damage combined with record temperatures.

We are committed to a reliable and resilient grid for all customers. Repairs have now been made to the damage caused by this Derecho storm. While we cannot guarantee that there will not be outages, our crews are ready to respond and provide safe and timely restoration of service.

Why didn’t I see workers in my community fixing this outage?

The storm damage was to the transmission system, which includes the large, high-voltage towers and lines that carry power across long distances into Columbus. These large lines feed into the local distribution system, which includes the smaller poles and wires that deliver power to homes and businesses. Those local distribution lines in Columbus were not damaged by the storm. The repairs were occurring on the larger transmission system.

On the next electric bill, will customers have to pay for the time their power was out?

No, customers do not pay for power when their electric meter is not running.

Page Last Updated: June 23, 2022