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Utility With Retail Choice Withdraws Proposed Customer-Facing Smart Energy App As Part Of AMI Deployment Settlement

Utility Withdraws Broadband Deployment Proposal

Retail Supplier Data Access, Use Of AMI Data For Settlement Addressed

Settlement Would Provide For Territory-Wide Deployment Of Smart Meters

October 29, 2021

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Copyright 2010-21
Reporting by Paul Ring •

The following story is brought free of charge to readers by EC Infosystems, the exclusive EDI provider of

As part of a stipulation addressing advanced metering (AMI) and related smart grid issues, AEP Ohio ("the Company") has agreed to withdraw a smart energy app that would have provided smart home and energy management tools to customers.

Specifically, AEP Ohio under the settlement agrees to withdraw without prejudice the company’s It’s Your Power application as part of gridSMART Phase 3 proceeding.

As described in AEP Ohio's original testimony from 2019, "It’s Your Power provides customers the ability to see disaggregated appliance usage, appliance health and coaching, set budgets, receive notifications, and control other smart connected devices in the home like thermostat, smart lights, and EV charging. The advisor cards within It’s Your Power are customized to individual users coaching the customer on best actions to take with personalized tips and information regarding whole house usage." It’s Your Power would have been facilitated by an "Energy Bridge" device offered by the utility that connects the It’s Your Power app with a customer’s AMI meter, giving access to energy usage in real-time

Additionally, under the stipulation, AEP Ohio agrees to withdraw without prejudice its proposal to deploy fiber optic infrastructure in areas of AEP Ohio’s service territory without readily-available broadband service

As previously reported, in proposing the fiber deployment, AEP Ohio had said in 2019, "AEP Ohio does not currently plan to offer last mile or end-user broadband service. However, if the rules changed to allow AEP Ohio to offer these services to customers and traditional ISPs did not take the opportunity to expand to these rural customers, AEP Ohio will evaluate the business case associated with offering these services."

Under the stipulation, AEP Ohio will complete the deployment of Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) to the Company’s remaining customers by replacing up to an additional approximately 475,000 existing meters with smart meters, with the timing of deployment being subject to supply chain availability.

The stipulation also addresses the provision of AMI data to retail suppliers and customers

Within 20 months of an Opinion and Order in the current case, the settlement provides that the Company will: (1) implement the EDI enhancements proposed in the original Application, i.e., the Company will provide customer energy usage data for customers on CRES TOU rates to CRES providers via EDI, and (2) upgrade the systems and processes for wholesale market settlements to calculate and settle peak load contribution (PLC) and network service peak load (NSPL) values for all AMI customers, instead of relying on load profiles, and provide the data via electronic data interchange (EDI).

"As part of the implementation of a new customer information system, the Company will calculate and settle PLC, NSPL, and the total hourly energy obligation (THEO) Settlement B (i.e., 60 day settlement) for all AMI customers using actual data, instead of relying on load profiles and will provide customer energy usage data to CRES providers via EDI," the settlement states

"Also as part of the implementation of a new customer information system, the Company will also assess the feasibility of calculating THEO for Settlement A using actual data instead of relying on historical like-day usage," the stipulation provides

"The Company shall make the residential customer energy usage data available to authorized CRES providers, in a manner consistent with Ohio Adm.Code 4901:1-10-24. Any future changes to the authorization process will be discussed as part of the gridSMART collaborative group," the settlement states

"The Company will initiate discussions with the gridSMART collaborative group to (1) identify opportunities to enhance the customer benefits associated with the AMI deployment and website enhancements to improve customer education and engagement, e.g., where to find gridSMART information relating to AMI data and data access; and (2) evaluate the issues associated with third-party access to data (including usage, billing information, and any other data types identified by the collaborative), including customer privacy, data security, etc. Within 6 months of an Opinion and Order, the Company shall solicit input from collaborative participants regarding the issues associated with third party data access through automated, machine-to-machine communication via an Application Programming Interface subject to web-based customer consent using nationally recognized standards and best practices. Within 12 months of an Opinion and Order in the current case, the Company will file a status update in this case that summarizes the discussions and recommendations resulting from the collaborative discussions," the settlement states

Commitments for customer access to data in the following categories will be made as part of a settlement, to the extent not already provided through the AEP Ohio website and the Commercial Customer portal:

i. At least 24 months of energy usage data in 15-minute, 30-minute, or 60-minute intervals made available on a best efforts basis within 24 hours of performing industry-standard validation, estimation, and editing (VEE) processes.

ii. AEP Ohio commits to exploring a technical solution to create a CSV download of historical billing information up to 36 months by account, and presenting to the Commission for approval.

iii. At least 24 months of summary billing history data, including date of bill, usage, bill amount and due date.

iv. Flexible views (for customers with multiple accounts) with options to (a) select individual account, (b) group accounts by user-defined criteria as is feasible, or (c) access full account list.

v. Tariff and rebate program information (if applicable).

AEP Ohio will work with the Signatory Parties to develop a functionality roadmap that integrates other Customer data needs not currently satisfied, with an agreed upon deployment schedule

AEP Ohio will provide information on the customer’s account information page of its website that identifies third parties that have received access to the customer’s energy usage data through the Business Partner Portal.

Notably, the settlement provides that, "In addition, AEP Ohio will increase customer awareness of the link on its website to opt out of providing customer specific information to CRES [retail suppliers]."

Within 18 months of an Opinion and Order, AEP Ohio will provide to Signatory Parties a roadmap of further customer data protections, including whether it is feasible to identify and list on the customer’s account information page of its website third party access of customer data that is accessed through other means than the Business Partner Portal.

The stipulation provides that AEP Ohio will offer a "competitively neutral" incentive program for smart thermostats for a total of $0.5 million funded through shareholder dollars, using $50 per unit as an initial rebate level. Only smart thermostats that are certified under United States Environmental Protection Agency Energy Star Connected Thermostat guidelines will be eligible for incentives. The Company will use best efforts to (1) provide an instant rebate; and (2) coordinate with the local gas utility to bundle incentives for customers. The availability of the incentive will be limited to new and existing shopping and non-shopping customers enrolled in time varying rate offerings.

As part of its next Electric Security Plan application or another similar application seeking to recover costs from customers for grid modernization investments, the Company agrees to include a proposal for a smart thermostat program targeted to equipping new and existing shopping and non-shopping time-of-use customers with rate optimized smart thermostats; any other party may support or oppose the proposal on any basis they deem appropriate. The Company agrees to include the incentive cost and overall benefits of the smart thermostats in any cost effectiveness calculation required for future plans.

Settling parties includes AEP Ohio, PUCO Staff, OCC, several industrial and consumer groups, and IGS Energy

IGS did not support provisions related to the smart thermostat program in their entirety, but agreed not to oppose it as part of the stipulation as a package. IGS’s non-opposition shall not be relied upon in any other forum or proceeding.

The settlement is stated to be supported by the Company, PUCO Staff and all of the intervenors in this case that were active in the settlement process. The only intervenor that has not affirmatively joined the Stipulation is Direct Energy, which accordingly to the filing parties, did not have a position as of the time the parties agreed to finalize and file the Stipulation.

Case 19-1475-EL-RDR

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