After American Electric Power (AEP) Ohio filed its smart meter expansion plan in 2013, company president Pablo Vegas expected to receive approval from the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) in 2014; while the process has taken longer than expected, Vegas believes the PUCO is close to a decision now, reports Columbus Business First. AEP Ohio already has 110,000 smart meters rolled out in a test program in northeast Central Ohio, but has been waiting for the PUCO’s approval to install the remaining 900,000 planned units. The four-year, $290 million gridSmart plan “would add 45 cents to the average residential customer’s monthly bill” in the first year, and would increase to $3.73 per month in five years. Commercial and industrial customers’ bills would include a $1.83 monthly surcharge at first, which would increase to $15.38 in five years. AEP Ohio says the smart meters “will allow the utility to quickly diagnose power outages and spot problems before the power actually goes out.” If customers refuse to have the smart meters installed, the utility wants to charge a monthly fee to manually read their meters (for more on this, see our August 29, 2014 blog post). For more, read the full article.