Jun 16, 2022 - News

Ohioans left in the dark by AEP Ohio power outages

Illustration of two power line towers angling away from each other with lines snapping

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Battered infrastructure and deliberate outages from AEP Ohio left more than 200,000 homes and businesses without power amid a potentially record-breaking heat wave.

State of play: Overnight storms knocked out electricity for some neighborhoods early Tuesday morning, but more and more lost power throughout the day.

  • AEP said this was intentional and necessary to "prevent widespread damage" of the electric grid and is encouraging customers who still have power to reduce usage between noon and 7pm.
A tweet from AEP Ohio explaining the need for recent Columbus-area power outages.
Via Twitter.

By the numbers: As of Wednesday afternoon, 87,000 Columbus residents and 49,000 elsewhere were without power, per AEP. Nearly 250,000 total Ohioans had lost power during Tuesday’s peak.

Meanwhile, the city-owned utility provider has not experienced any widespread outages among its roughly 14,000 customers, according to City Council member Rob Dorans.

What they're saying: Dorans, who leads the Public Utilities Committee, was among those who lost power on Tuesday from AEP's shut-off.

  • The company's decision to turn off residents' power without advanced warning is "incredibly disappointing and frustrating," Dorans tells Axios.

Between the lines: The city has little to no oversight of AEP's local electric coverage. That's the job of the state's public utilities commission.

  • Still, Dorans hopes city leaders can meet with company officials to discuss preventing these situations going forward.

What we're watching: Two Democratic state representatives from Columbus, Latyna Humphrey and Dontavius Jarrells, have joined Dorans in drawing attention to the need for infrastructure improvements.

A tweet from State Rep. Dontavius Jarrells reading, "Adding funding for Columbus power grid to my list of legislative asks...."
Via Twitter.
Power outage advice

If you're waiting for the power to turn back on, a few tips:

  • Unplug major appliances to protect them when power is restored.
  • Remember that street intersections without functioning stoplights are treated as four-way stops.
  • Discard perishable refrigerated food such as meat and eggs after four hours without power. A full freezer will stay safe for 48 hours if unopened, per this food safety guide.
  • Try filing a claim with AEP Ohio for spoiled food or hotel costs — and let us know how it goes.
Where to cool off
Data: Axios research; Map Jacque Schrag/Axios

This is also a good time to take advantage of our pools and splash pads.

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