PUCO approves AEP plan to expand renewables, EV charging stations

The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) recently approved AEP Ohio’s Electric Security Plan (ESP) that will allow the company to “expand access to electric vehicle (EV) charging and renewable generation,” nawindpower.com reports. AEP Ohio had previously committed to developing an additional 900 megawatts of renewable power generation in the state; the ESP “provides a method for AEP Ohio to request approval from the PUCO for the development of new renewable resources.” Additionally, a “program to expand EV charging station availability will be created as part of the Smart Columbus initiative.” Julie Sloat, AEP Ohio president and chief operating officer, said the plan allows the company “to bring these services, which also will support economic development in Ohio, to customers across the state.” For more, read the full article.

Economic Development, Renewable Energy, Smart Cities

Columbus turned $50M into $500M for Smart City through public-private partnerships

Winning the Federal Department of Transportation’s national Smart City challenge was a huge coup for Columbus (see our June 21, 2016 blog post), but turning the $50 million in grant money that came with the win into $500 million is “one of the greatest feats” the city has ever accomplished, TechRepublic reports. Investments from the private sector have helped Columbus accomplish that goal, and are expected to continue to bring in more funding, according to the article. Among the local investors: American Electric Power has pledged $170 million, The Ohio State University has pledged $64 million, and Nationwide Insurance has pledged $2 million. In the two months between the time the federal grant was announced and the application deadline, Columbus officials “were able to pull together $90 million in pledges from local businesses,” which impressed federal officials. Mike Keller, CIO of Nationwide, said, “[t]here was a high degree of public/private/academic participation prior to the grant and that made it a lot easier to come together.” For more, read the full article

Federal Updates, Smart Cities, State Updates

Smart City grant helps Columbus buys first electric fleet vehicles

The City of Columbus has made its largest expenditure to date since winning the $40 million U.S. Department of Transportation Smart City challenge (see our June 21, 2016 blog post): 93 electric cars to replace aging city fleet vehicles, Columbus Business First reports. Last fall, Columbus City Council approved “a $2 million lease-to-own deal” for the cars, with $1.7 million from a city income tax fund for fleet vehicles and $273,000 from “the $10 million grant from Vulcan Inc. toward reducing fossil fuel consumption” that was awarded to the city for winning the challenge. The city and Smart Columbus committed to “replacing 200 fleet vehicles with electric or partial-electric models, which are projected to cut fuel and other operating costs in half,” according to the article. Columbus will also install charging stations to be used exclusively by the city’s electric vehicles. For more, read the full article

Smart Cities, State Updates

Columbus gets approval to change plans for $40M Smart City grant

The app for truck drivers to reserve loading zone times is out, and prenatal transportation is in, after the U.S. Department of Transportation signed off on changes Columbus requested for its Smart City plans, Columbus Business First reports. Smart Columbus “has realigned priorities,” cutting some of its original projects and adding one after a year of study, according to the article. Research indicated that delivery drivers would not find the proposed app to reserve appointments for loading zones helpful. Bus collision avoidance sensors were also removed from the grant, based on data that showed The Central Ohio Transit Authority “had only six collisions with pedestrians or bikes in 2016, and all took place in low-light conditions.” The proposed sensors do not work in those conditions. Columbus added a “new prenatal visit transportation project,” which aligns with the city’s efforts to lower infant mortality rates. For more, read the full article

Regional Updates, Smart Cities

Columbus lauded as “punching above its weight” in its internet sector

A new study detailing “the size and impact of the internet sector on cities throughout the United States” lists Columbus as one of four cities that “punch above their weight,” The Columbus Dispatch reports. Columbus has 1,500 internet businesses — compared to the average city’s 600 — and 25,400 internet-sector jobs, almost three times the average city’s 9,000. Phoenix, Pittsburgh, and Kansas City, Missouri joined Columbus as cities chosen as “innovative models of how places and policymakers can evolve in the dramatically shifting economic and cultural currents of the past two decades,” the report said. Tom Walker, president and CEO of venture-capital and business-incubator Rev1 Ventures, said “the report is no surprise because Columbus has been focused on making progress in the internet sector for more than a decade,” according to the article. The study cited Columbus’s “victory in the Smart City challenge” as a moment the city “became known, almost overnight, as an innovation hub.” For more, read the full article

Regional Updates, Smart Cities, State Updates