Duquesne Light, a utility in selected areas of Pennsylvania, is seeking to increase customer rates by $8 per month. The rate increase is said to cover the cost of Duquesne Light’s distribution infrastructure upgrades, a new customer information system (smart meters) and protection against cyberattacks.

The utility is looking to raise revenue by $76.3 million (11.3 percent). After the increase, an average monthly bill is expected to be $86. Before the rate increase takes effect, it must be approved by the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission. The estimated effect date is May 1, 2014.

Aside from rate increases, Duquesne Light is also implementing new smart meters. According to a contract signing between and Itron, Inc. and Duquesne Light, Itron, Inc. will be responsible for replacing Duquesne Light’s 625,000 electricity meters with smart meters. The contract signing follows approval from Duquesne Light’s Board of Directors and the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission.

In addition to providing smart meters for Duquesne Light’s smart meter program, Itron Inc. will also implement sophisticated back-office data collection software, supply critical network communications infrastructure, and provide comprehensive professional services.

“We rigorously evaluated smart grid vendors and their solutions, and Itron’s solution proved to be highly flexible and offered the most robust capabilities. We are confident Itron’s feature-rich and reliable technology will put us in the best position to meet our business objectives as well as the requirements of Act 129 and the PAPUC Smart Meter Implementation Order,” said Dave Wolfe, Director of Technology, Duquesne Light.

To rid rates increases, customers can simply switch to a retail electricity provider. In doing so, residents and businesses have the opportunity to lock in 1 rate for a selected term whether 12 months, 24 months, or even 36 months – guaranteed! To check for plans in your area, type in your ZIP Code at electricityrates.com and select a plan that works best for you.