JCP&L filed for a 6 percent rate increase on Thursday, saying the hike is necessary to help support "continued service reliability."

The plan filed with the state Board of Public Utilities would mean an increase of $5.58 per month for the average customer using 650 kilowatt hours per month, the utility said. The increase, if approved, would go into effect on January 31, 2017.

"While JCP&L's rates have remained stable and even declined over the past decade, the cost of providing reliable electric service has increased. It's our job to provide dependable electricity to our growing customer base for their homes, businesses and communities, and this rate plan will help us deliver on this commitment," said Jim Fakult, president of JCP&L.

The utility said the increase would go towards their tree trimming, inspections of lines, poles and substations and maintenance for newly installed equipment that enhances and modernizes the electric system.

Stefanie A. Brand, the director of the state Division of Rate Counsel, told the Asbury Park Press that her office would look at the request "very closely."

JCP&L is part of FirstEnergy Corp. and said it serves 1.1 million New Jersey customers in Burlington, Essex, Hunterdon, Mercer, Middlesex, Monmouth, Morris, Ocean, Passaic, Somerset, Sussex, Union and Warren counties.

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