AEP Ohio wants to raise smart meter rates by 50 per cent

In the US, investor-owner electric utility American Electric Power Company is looking to raise base charges for smart meters in a bid to recoup under-collection of charges to cover smart meter rollout costs.

AEP, which delivers electricity to more than 5 million customers in 11 states, last week asked regulators in Ohio to allow it to raise collection charges.

Commercial and industrial customers who currently pay US$2.10 on their monthly bill for a smart meter would see this increase to US$4.34, or a 52% increase.

Residential customers would see an 51% rise, from 51 US cents to US$1.04 a month, according to documents filed by AEP.

Not covering smart meter rollout costs

AEP claims it need to increase charges as AEP Ohio has under-recovered the charges imposed to cover costs in 2013 and 2014, when it was closing the first phase of a smart meter program, that saw 110,000 customers using advanced metering in Central Ohio.

The utility estimates it has under-collected by more than US$2.7 million.

The rates customers pay now only became effective in April 2014, and those rates cover AEP's charges from 2012.

An AEP Ohio spokeswoman said that if the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio approves the rate hike, the new charges will again be reviewed next year.

Meanwhile, AEP Ohio is waiting to receive approval for the PUC for a full-scale smart meter rollout to 900,000 customers.