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    Northeast utility firm National Grid is hoping to increase its electricity rates in an attempt to bring its annual revenue up by about $51 million, Middletown Patch reports.

    According to the news source, the rates would affect the company's customers in Rhode Island, and if approved, the increase would raise residential electricity bills by about $48 per year. The rate hike is still subject to a number of public hearings, with the first slated for September 19 in Newport.

    National Grid's electric division would see revenue increase by about $31.4 million, or 3.8 percent. An average residential customer that uses 500 kilowatt hours per month will see a monthly rise of $3.97 under the proposed plan. Business electricity bills would also be affected, likely increasing by about 6.7 percent.

    However, the Rhode Island Public Utilities Commission said it is uncertain as to whether the new spending National Grid has proposed warrants such a rate increase.

    National Grid is facing stiff competition in many New England states, where a competitive energy market has given rise to several retail energy providers offering electricity rates at a discount.