WOODBURY - The Long Island Power Authority (LIPA) says its customers can expect a rate hike this month, but the utility's chief says it should only be temporary. Starting this month, LIPA says most customers will see a 1.5 percent increase in their bills. The utility says the hike is the result of a $51 million jump in LIPA's annual tax bill, and they say ratepayers were told about the hike back in December. The utility's chief operating officer, Michael Hervey, says the increase will be about $2.25 more per month for the average customer. He says the hike could last as short as one month because natural gas prices are expected to drop. Hervey says those savings will be passed on customers.The LIPA citizen watchdog group Long Island Energy Surveillance says it's not buying the explanation and doesn't believe the hike will be temporary.