Customers of AEP Ohio have a new way to get information when their service is affected by power outages. With a new web tool, customers now can find out when their power will be restored by logging into their account on AEPOhio.com.
“We know outages are an inconvenience and our customers want to know when their power will be back on,” said Karen Sloneker, Director – Customer Services and Marketing of AEP Ohio. “While customers can call us to find out their estimated restoration time, they’ll now be able to find the same information through our website.”
The new tool was put to the test during the recent thunderstorm. Despite the fact that its availability was not yet widely promoted, more than 5,100 visits to the outage status page were noted.
“This is a confirmation that the tool is a success and will go a long way in improving customer experience and satisfaction,” Sloneker said.
To view outage information through the website, customers should:
- Go to AEPOhio.com/MyOutage
- Enter their user ID and password
The next screen will show the estimated restoration time and the cause of the outage when it is identified.
The initial estimated restoration time can change after crews arrive on-site and identify the outage cause after assessing the line, pole and equipment.
Customers are encouraged to check the website periodically for updates on their outage.
Customers also are reminded to report their outage if their outage is not reflected on their account.
AEP Ohio is continually working on ways to improve customer experience and satisfaction. Below are four new functions that are available now or will be available in the near future:
• Mobile Payments
Customers may now add a checking or money market to their account via a smart phone and schedule their payment.
• Paperless Billing Enrollment
Customers may now enroll in paperless billing from a mobile device.
• Mobile Alerts
Mobile alerts will allow customers to sign up to receive proactive alerts (text or email) about important things like outages in their area or billing due dates. The priority is to start with sending outage alerts with billing and credit to follow by the end of 2014.
• AEPOhio.com Redesign
The AEPOhio.com redesign will be device agnostic and result in expanded functionality via mobile devices and tablets. The new website will be available in 2014.
More information about tools still in development will be announced as they come online.
Meet AEP Ohio’s newest female line mechanic: Brandi Perch.
Perch, who is currently enrolled in line school, is assigned to Southwest Service Center in Columbus. This is Persch’ s story about her journey of fulfilling a dream of becoming a line mechanic.
Brandi Persch started as a meter reader for AEP Ohio in 1998. She has always been interested in the electric industry. Anytime additional training was offered, Persch saw it as an opportunity to progress and would soak it all up and apply it to her job.
However, it wasn’t until the derecho storm last year when she got a chance to go outside of her area to help with restoration that the idea of actually being a line mechanic began to take root.
“It was the first time I got to see line work in progress. I was fascinated by what I saw,” Persch said.
As Persch worked on a restoration detail in Ironton, her mind was filled with questions about line work. She was working with a crew leader who was willing to answer them, and her passion for the career blossomed and started to become a reality.
After returning to her home garage at Seaman Service Center, Persch asked Chris Powell, line mechanic A, if he would teach her to climb poles. He didn’t hesitate but simply stated, “Yes, I will.”
For weeks Powell took his own personal time to help Persch develop the skill of climbing and doing simple tasks on the pole. Persch was asked by other co-workers how she felt about the work.
“I love it. And I know it’s strange for a woman to want to be line mechanic, but I want to!” Persch exclaimed. “I set my goal to train hard and work every day toward the goal of becoming a candidate for line school.”
Before being accepted into a line mechanic apprenticeship, employees have to pass a number of steps. According to Lori Kristoff, human resources consultant in Gahanna, the first step in getting qualified is to take the Construction and Skilled Trade (CAST) and Strength tests.
The CAST test helps determine whether the candidate has the aptitude for the duties required in the line mechanic position. The Strength test determines whether the candidate can handle the physical aspects – which can be very demanding — of the job.
Following successful passing of the CAST and Strength tests, the candidate can advance to take the Pre-Assessment.
“We can tell if a candidate has the ability and coordination to effectively perform basic tasks required of the job by how well he or she does on the Pre-Assessment,” said Charles Husky, training specialist at Groveport Line Mechanic Training Center. “Individuals also must be comfortable working high above ground. This test provides a pretty good idea of how well the candidate will perform while working in a bucket truck.”
The Pre-Assessment involves a number of challenging tasks including the following:
• Climbing poles at various heights from 4 feet to 40 feet , with and without fall restraints
• Conducting several tasks such as installing crossarms while on the pole at 4 feet in a fall restraint.
• Carrying a 25-foot ladder weighing 60 lbs. and materials weighing 20 lbs.
• Ladder climbing and performing a job task safely while standing on a ladder
• Climbing inside a bucket truck and working at the elevated height of 46 – 50 feet
Upon passing Pre-Assessment, candidates are then able to apply for an open position and attend line school.
From conversations with her peers, Persch learned the job of a line mechanic is demanding and oftentimes in hazardous conditions. Line mechanics can work long hours in extreme conditions and are on call 24 hours a day. They can also be away from home for long periods of time while doing storm restoration work in other states.
Knowing she would need the support of her family if she were to pursue this career, Persch talked to her husband, his parents and her parents, and everyone gave their blessings and support.
Having her family’s encouragement inspired her to continue working toward her goal. In August her hard work paid off. Persch passed the Pre-Assessment and accepted a line mechanic D position at Southwest Service Center.
Are you doing everything you can to reduce your electricity use? What if you could learn some simple actions you can take right now to reduce your energy use and utility costs?
AEP Ohio has all the tools you need to waste less energy in your home – everything from in-home energy audits to lighting discounts and refrigerator recycling.
And with AEP Ohio’s new Energy Efficiency House, you can see where and how you can save energy throughout your home — from the attic to the basement and outdoors too.
The AEP Ohio Energy Efficiency House is an interactive online house that provides a room-by-room energy guide to saving energy and money.
Each room highlights easy energy-saving tips along with links to AEP Ohio’s program offerings to help customers learn more about solutions that are right for them.
Visit AEPOhio.com/WasteLess to find the solutions right for you.
For the second year running, AEP Ohio is proud to donate 200,000 ENERGY STAR® certified compact fluorescent light (CFL) bulbs to the Mid-Ohio Foodbank in Columbus, Ohio, as part of the company’s ENERGY STAR Day. Struggling Ohioans from throughout the state will receive the energy efficient bulbs this fall to help reduce energy use and costs, freeing up their limited resources for life’s other necessities.
“Installing CFLs is a quick and easy way to lower energy use and save on electric bills,” said Gary Spitznogle, vice president of Regulatory and Finance for AEP Ohio. “Arming people with the means to become more energy efficient is one way we can help those in need save on living costs.
“CFLs can be used in almost any fixture and use about 75 percent less energy than standard incandescent bulbs, saving people about $50 or more in electricity costs over the course of each bulb’s lifetime.”
AEP Ohio’s longstanding partnership with Mid-Ohio Foodbank affords the electric company the opportunity to distribute CFL bulbs to low-income Ohioans in eight counties throughout the state.
“AEP Ohio’s generosity to provide energy efficient bulbs to those in our community who are struggling so that they can access food with their limited resources makes a real difference,” said Matt Habash, president and CEO, Mid-Ohio Foodbank. ”Families throughout our footprint worry every day about where their next meals will come from. This donation helps to lessen that ache.”
The donation is part of AEP Ohio’s Efficient Products Program, offering customers discounted CFLs through participating retailers to help people reduce wasted energy, save money and protect the environment.
Low-income residential customers are also eligible for the installation of a wide range of higher efficiency, cost effective lighting, appliances, heating and cooling equipment, weatherization upgrades and other electrical safety measures. For more information about this program, customers can call AEP Ohio at 1-800-277-2177.
Since 2009, AEP Ohio has helped customers reduce power usage by 1,697 GWhs, saving more than $1 billion. AEP Ohio offers a variety of energy efficiency programs and discounts to help residential and business customers to stop wasting energy and start saving money. For more information, visit AEPOhio.com/WasteLess (residential) or AEPOhio.com/Solutions (business).
There are at least 20 cats showing their appreciation to the linemen and supervisors there.
Those felines, all residents of the Licking County Humane Society, were featured in various photos for a 2014 calendar, and each were held in the photos by an AEP Ohio Distribution line employee.
“I came up with the idea for a calendar to raise funds for the Humane Society,” said Dave Seel, a line servicer in the Newark Area. “We call the calendar ‘Linemen or Lions,’ and we had a blast doing it.”
The Humane Society obtained a photographer and shot the photos in August. The subjects are shown in front of an historic AEP Ohio company photo that was “photoshopped” into the background. The organization then produced 100 calendars that have sold by word of mouth for $25 each. The first production run is nearly sold out, raising close to $2,500 for the Humane Society.
“We donated $1,500 to the organization to help with production costs,” said Ron Winrod, manager-distribution system for the Newark District. “We are hopeful that this project will raise $3,000 to $4,000 for the Humane Society.”
Eighteen Newark Service Center employees, including Winrod, are featured in the calendar along with two line crew supervisors from the Columbus District. The featured employees include: Seel, Winrod, Travis Harless, Mike Flowers, Jody Shields, Adam Tackett, Jeff Robinson, Mike Mcconaha, Rick Creager, Jeremy Martin, Carl Redman, Scott Swartz, Jim Weese, Todd Owens, Justin Berkfield, Jeff Bachelor, Jarrad Conway, Dave Johnson, Dean Johnson and Sean Evans.
The calendar also includes reminders of various pet-related events throughout the year. For example, there is a notation that January 14 is “National Dress Up Your Pet Day,” and don’t forget the all-important “National Mutt Day” on December 2.
Calendars can be purchased through the Licking County Humane Society’s website or at 825 Thornwood Drive, Heath, Ohio.
“I think it’s wonderful that Dave Seel came up with this idea to help the community at a very low cost,” said Winrod. “Community involvement is one of AEP’s core values.”
AEP Oho customers who sign up to recycle their fridge or freezer by Dec. 24 can get even more money back. For a limited time, AEP Ohio is offering a $60 rebate for your old, working fridge or freezer, plus free pickup.
Old, inefficient refrigerators can eat up a lot of energy and your money along with it. When you recycle your old model, you can save up to $150 a year in energy costs. And recycling helps protect the environment. Harmful materials are kept of out landfills, and chemicals are properly disposed.Refrigerators and freezers must be in working condition and be a minimum of 10 cubic feet in size, using inside measurements.
To schedule a free pickup, call 1.877.545.4112 or visit AEPOhio.com/WasteLess.
Since 2009, the Neighbor to Neighbor Program, offered in partnership with AEP Ohio and the Dollar Energy Fund, has provided assistance to eligible, low-income families in Ohio who struggle financially and need help to get back on their feet.
Through the Neighbor to Neighbor Program, administered by the Dollar Energy Fund, one of the largest hardship funds in the United States, eligible AEP Ohio customers in need are able to receive a utility assistance grant that is applied directly to their electric bill to help them maintain or restore electric service.
The Neighbor to Neighbor Program is funded by public contributions, and utility customers may make donations through their monthly AEP Ohio electric bill.
“For every dollar donated, AEP Ohio matches it dollar for dollar, up to $1 million,” said Karen Sloneker, AEP Ohio director of customer services and marketing. “And all donations received are used to assist low-income families residing in Ohio.”
Since the program launched four years ago, the Neighbor to Neighbor Program has helped 85,236 families in AEP Ohio’s service territory, providing more than $7.3 million in assistance.
Last year, the program provided more assistance to families than it did in each of the previous years since launching in 2009. A total of $1,756,001 was distributed to help 17,057 low-income families with their AEP Ohio electric bill.
The program is now accepting applications for heating assistance through April 30 for the 2013-2014 program year. To apply, customers can go to a community based agency in their areas to complete an application. Customers also can find a participating agency by visiting AEP Ohio’s Neighbor to Neighbor web page. Applications are processed on a first-come, first-served basis.
To be eligible for assistance, customers must meet the following requirements:
• Must be customers of AEP Ohio
• Must be at or below 250 percent of the Federal Poverty Income Guidelines. For example, a family of four earning up to $57,625.
• Must have made a sincere effort of payment on their bill — of a minimum of $150 — in the last 90 days. Exceptions made for senior citizens.
• Must have a minimum balance of $100 on their AEP Ohio bill.
If you’re interested in helping your neighbors who may be experiencing a financial hardship, you can make donations through your AEP Ohio bill or give online at dollarenergyfund.org. All donations are tax-deductible.
For more information on how to donate to the Neighbor to Neighbor Program through AEP Ohio, click here.
Dollar Energy Fund was founded in 1983 in Western Pennsylvania by community and business leaders to help those who need assistance with their utility bills. For more information about the organization, visit their website at dollarenergyfund.org.
When Eleanore Naffziger’s refrigerator was made, Pluto had just been discovered and the Great Depression was underway.
Naffziger’s 1930 refrigerator is one of two winners in Ohio’s Oldest Fridge Contest, and the winner in AEP Ohio’s service territory. The Upper Arlington resident earned the prize after scheduling to have her 1930 General Electric model picked up for recycling through AEP Ohio’s refrigerator recycling program. In addition to the $1,250 prize, Naffziger also received the guaranteed $50 incentive that every customer receives for participating in the program.
When Naffziger purchased her home in 1972, the ancient refrigerator was already 42 years old. While still functioning when crews came to retrieve it for recycling, Naffziger had been using the refrigerator to store painting supplies.
This GE monitor top fridge originally sold for $300 back in 1930, according to worthpoint.com.
“I didn’t think those guys would be able to get that heavy thing out of the house, but they did!” Naffziger said.
Naffziger’s refrigerator was one of thousands of refrigerators and freezers picked up throughout Ohio during a joint effort between utilities to seek out the oldest functioning fridge in the state. In addition to uncovering the state’s oldest-working refrigerators, the campaign succeeded in saving the state a significant amount of energy by eliminating these and many more less-aged, but still outdated, devices from the electric grid.
All AEP Ohio customers can save money and earn a $50 incentive by recycling older, inefficient appliances. To participate in the program, call 1-877-545-4112, or visit http://bit.ly/1790eZZ.
Each customer may have two units removed. Appliances to be recycled must be in working order, with inside measurements between 10 and 30 cubic feet — standard size for most models.
Recycling refrigerators and freezers creates many benefits for AEP Ohio customers and the environment. Many people don’t realize older refrigerators and freezers can use up to three times more energy than newer models built to higher energy-efficiency standards. By recycling, program participants can save up to $150 a year through lower electricity costs by not operating an older refrigerator or freezer.
Units picked up through the program are transported to an appliance recycling facility operated by JACO Environmental. JACO safely removes hazardous materials from the old energy-guzzlers, reclaiming 95 percent of the materials in the appliances for reuse in manufacturing new products. Even the foam insulation is safely incinerated to generate electricity.
By Andrew McCabe, manager of energy efficiency and peak demand reduction programs for the commercial and industrial customers served by AEP Ohio
Facility managers know that operating a newly constructed building in the real world often tests systems in unexpected ways. Charles Ervin, director of facility and support operations for Mercy Tiffin Hospital, located in Tiffin, Ohio, lived this experience first-hand.
“When we built the new hospital, our intent was to build maximum energy efficiency into all of its major systems — lighting, HVAC and more,” he said. “But that’s before you have the chance to put the building to use. Now we have experience with the facility, with its everyday use and we have learned that there are ways for us to further maximize efficiencies by refining those systems.”
Mercy Tiffin, a 193,407-square-foot facility with 54 patient rooms, was constructed with Energy Star-rated equipment and the latest environmental building practices. But as Ervin and his team discovered, the hospital could do more to reduce its carbon footprint and maintain the facility’s leading-edge patient services.
AEP Ohio Columbus Underground Network employees decided this past spring to try something different with their building’s exterior plantings, and like many great ideas, things started small, and grew.
The idea of planting a garden of tomatoes and peppers came from Jesse McCain, network mechanic A, who had purchased too many plants for the space in his own home garden. He asked Jeff Hicks, supervisor – distribution system, for permission to create a small garden in a space around a flag pole in the parking lot of the Glenwood Service Center that had previously been planted with flowers. Chris Cooper, network mechanic A, also donated some excess plants for the plot.
Both hot and sweet varieties of peppers have been planted in the tiny garden.
The reaction was enthusiastic. “Being mostly men, the majority of employees didn’t really appreciate the blooms,” said Hicks. “Things that can be eaten are more appreciated.”
The area is so small that it has taken very little extra time and effort to maintain, and weeds have not been a problem since the plants reached maturity, Hicks said. Birds ate the tops of the plants but they continued to grow, and more plants were also added.
The garden has grown several varieties of tomatoes including Big Boy and Better Boy, as well as Hungarian hot wax peppers and sweet banana peppers. The success of the effort was apparent quickly. In fact, you had to act fast to get a taste of the success.
“At first, the produce was picked and placed on a table inside, and whoever wanted some, took some,” Hicks said. “Now, it usually just kind of disappears off the plants.”
The group will be moving to a new facility in Grandview Heights, and employees are already looking forward to finding space for another garden plot for next year’s season.