Customers of Jersey Central Power & Light could pay nearly $10 more a month under a rate hike proposal by the utility company.

JCP&L on Tuesday announced the proposed 8.5% overall rate increase. If approved by the state Board of Public Utilities, it would mean the average residential customer using 766 kilowatt hours per month would face a monthly increase of $8.73.

The company said in a written statement that the requested hike "would help support service reliability enhancements made by the utility in recent years as well as recover costs incurred to restore power to customers following severe storms."

By the end of 2019, JCP&L's accumulated unrecovered storm costs had grown to more than $300 million, utility officials said.

Some of the additional funds also would be applied to installing energy-efficient "municipal LED streetlights," in-line with the state's recently released Energy Master Plan.

The proposed rate hike is separate from the BPU's recent 19th annual electricity auction, which included a more than 2% rate hike for JCP&L customers. Starting in June, average residential JCP&L bills will go up $2.09, to $87.50, according to the BPU.

The utility does have the lowest residential electric rates among the state's four regulated electric distribution companies.

Previously, the BPU approved a 3.6 % JCP&L rate increase that went into effect in 2017.

JCP&L serves 1.1 million New Jersey  customers in part of 13 counties — Burlington, Essex, Hunterdon, Mercer, Middlesex, Monmouth, Morris, Ocean, Passaic, Somerset, Sussex, Union and Warren.

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