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    American Electric Power (AEP) has been required by the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio to refund their customers. The refund, however, is less than the cost of a first-class postage stamp.

    Customers should expect to receive a refund of 43 cents next month. The refund was ordered by regulators after they discovered that AEP had posted "significantly excessive" earnings in 2010.

    AEP announced that the amount of the refund will be deducted from November electricity bills.

    Last week, the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio found that AEP's Columbus Southern Power subsidiary had to return $6.9 million to customers. Altogether, that sounds like and immense number which it is! However the refund is not nearly as immense for customers.

    For a household that uses 1,000 kilowatt hours, the refund is 43 cents.

    The refund will show up on your bill in two places. First, the "phase in recovery rider," will be zero, down from what would have been a charge of 7 cents. Second, there will be a "SEET credit rider," which is a credit of 36 cents.

    The returned amount will appear only in November bills, and only in Columbus Southern territory, which includes parts of central and southern Ohio. AEP's other local operating company, Ohio Power, did not receive a penalty, so its customers will not get a refund.

    Consumer advocates had argued that AEP should pay a much larger penalty after Columbus Southern reported a profit of $234 million in 2010. AEP officials said they should not have to pay any penalty because its Ohio operations as a whole had a much more modest profit.

    The result, which was much closer to AEP's wishes than those of other parties in the case, was " not completely unexpected," said Dave Rinebolt, executive director of Ohio Partners for Affordable Energy, one of the consumer groups.