In 2016, the City of Columbus – home to AEP’s corporate headquarters and AEP Ohio – won the U.S. Department of Transportation’s (DOT) Smart City Challenge, to be selected over 77 other cities. The DOT awarded the city a $40 million federal grant, with Vulcan Inc., a Paul G. Allen company, contributing an additional $10 million to accelerate the city’s transition to an electrified, low-emissions transportation system.
The goals of Smart Columbus are to transform the city to become the nation’s epicenter for intelligent transportation systems (ITS) which will:
- Improve access to jobs through expanded mobility options;
- Compete globally through smart logistics;
- Connect Columbus residents and visitors to safe, reliable transportation for everyone; and
- Develop a more environmentally sustainable transportation system.
As part of this initiative, AEP Ohio will help drive consumer adoption of electric vehicles (EVs) by removing barriers and investing in electric charging station infrastructure. AEP was one of several partners with Columbus to sign on to the challenge. While the DOT’s focus is on modernizing the transportation network, Vulcan’s focus is on reducing carbon emissions in both the transportation and electric power sectors.
In assembling its application to the challenge, Columbus and its partners established an Accelerator Fund to support execution of its Smart Columbus plan. AEP is the largest contributor to the fund at nearly $175 million, with the potential for additional energy efficiency, smart grid and alternative energy projects (subject to regulatory approval). The Smart City plan allows us to continue current programs and introduce new, smarter energy technologies on our system that help the system operate more efficiently and effectively. It also gives us a way to invest in renewable generation that will bring clean energy, and jobs and support for economic development in Ohio.
To support this and other system needs, AEP Ohio filed a plan with the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) that includes proposed distribution technology investments, including EV charging stations, microgrids and smart lighting controls. The request, which is pending, includes:
- Deployment of electric vehicle charging stations that include direct current (DC) fast chargers, level 2 public smart chargers and residential chargers.
- Creation of microgrids that could support critical infrastructure, such as police and fire stations, medical facilities and other facilitis that serve public safety needs.
- Installation of smart area light and street light controls that can dim lights when appropriate and detect malfunctioning lights to save energy and increase safety and security.