COLUMBUS, Ohio (WKBN) – Ohio Governor Mike DeWine said Tuesday that Ohio’s utility companies need to be reviewed following recent outages.
The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) announced last week it would conduct a review of all Ohio utilities related to power outages following storms that happened on June 13. They are looking at what steps those utilities may or may not have taken.
DeWine said he supports the review and wants these questions answered:
- What steps are Ohio’s utilities taking to ensure that the significant disruption Ohioans experienced last week does not occur again?
- Why certain central Ohio neighborhoods lost power and others did not?
- Why certain northeast Ohio communities took the better part of a week to come back online?
- Did utilities do enough to communicate to their customers ahead of planned power shut-offs to protect the grid, especially when electronic communications cannot be accessed without electricity?
PUCO Chairperson Jennifer French said Wednesday that Ohio is a member of the PJM Regional Transmission Organization. PJM is the grid operator for 13 states, including Ohio. She said it is their job to make sure the electric grid remains reliable and where it needs to flow in real-time, comparing it to how an air traffic controller works in relation to the airline industry.
Most recently and because of stress on the grid from storms and heat, PJM asked AEP Ohio to decrease the electricity demand on some parts of the system to avoid making the situation worse. French said the PUCO closely monitors the outages and has been in contact with PJM and the utilities.
“These outages have caused not only inconveniences but also serious problems for residents and businesses in the affected area,” French said. “As a regulator, the PUCO monitors system-wide reliability and as with any major outage, we will be communicating with Ohio’s utilities to do an after-action review and determine what steps can be taken to avoid future occurrences,” French said.
According to a report from PJM, the grid operator has “enough supply to meet summer electricity needs for the 65 million people it serves.” They say reliability studies have done peaking at over expected demand and is sufficient. It has also been working with power companies over the past year on maintenance and upgrades.
Austintown residents have been vocal about their power interruptions. There have been multiple outages since the beginning of the year. Business owners said they are losing money and have to invest in equipment to combat what they call frequent outages.
FirstEnergy announced in April that it was updating lines in Mahoning County to help curb outages. Some of that includes repairs at a substation in Austintown and equipment installation that will help restore power faster in certain situations like falling trees.
FirstEnergy has already installed equipment along lines in Trumbull County.
The work is ongoing.