GAHANNA, Ohio, Sept. 16, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- AEP Ohio, a unit of American Electric Power (NYSE: AEP), filed last Friday with the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) a plan to broaden the company's successful gridSMART ® program to communities throughout its Ohio service territory. AEP Ohio will host a teleconference for media today at 2 p.m. to discuss the details of this plan. Please call 877-253-4307, Participant code: 9106675, to join the call. Phase 2 of the gridSMART plan is built upon proven technologies and solutions that were implemented during the company's gridSMART Demonstration Project, which was launched in 2009 in northeast central Ohio. The four-year pioneer campaign allowed AEP Ohio to test a host of smart grid devices, programs and services to determine what aspects of the smart grid worked best for both customers and AEP Ohio. The plan includes the installation of advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) to approximately 900,000 customers; distribution automation circuit reconfiguration (DACR) to improve the reliability of 250 distribution circuits; and volt var optimization (VVO) to better control the voltage of 80 distribution circuits. Following regulatory review and approval, AEP Ohio anticipates the project will take four years to complete. "Already, our customers in the gridSMART Demonstration Project have experienced the benefits of having these technologies installed," said Pablo Vegas, AEP Ohio president and chief operating officer. "These proven technologies provide customers with more accurate information to view their energy consumption, improved billing accuracy and enhanced reliability. AEP Ohio has learned from recent significant weather events like the 2012 Derecho and Super Storm Sandy that modernization of the distribution grid can help pinpoint damage more accurately, and ultimately support faster restoration times during future weather events." AEP Ohio is proposing to install AMI, otherwise known as smart meters, in more than 31 communities throughout its service territory. Using two-way communication capabilities, the technology provides near real-time meter readings and the secure transfer of customers' usage information to AEP Ohio for billing and operational purposes. The technology improves billing accuracy and eliminates the need for a meter reader to enter onto a customer's property. AMI gives customers the tools and information needed to use electricity more efficiently. In addition, AEP Ohio will have the ability to quickly check if service is available to a customer and verify that service has been restored following an interruption. AEP Ohio is integrating AMI with service restoration systems to be better equipped to detect power outage locations so repairs can be completed more quickly.