HICKSVILLE - The Long Island Power Authority (LIPA) today held its first public hearing on its looming rate increase, which has been raising concerns among customers.

LIPA's proposed 2012 budget calls for a 1.5-percent increase in monthly bills for homes and businesses. On average, each household would have to pay $2.24 more a month.

"We wish we could have zero, or wish we could have a decrease, but the taxes that we're paying that come into the customers' bills are really what's driving us here," says LIPA Chief Operating Officer Michael Hervey.

LIPA says the biggest portion of the rate hike is due to a 10-percent, $52 million increase in property taxes and other payments to local governments. The utility says it's also spending more on energy-efficiency programs, alternative energy sources, storm repair work and regulatory reviews.

LIPA is expected to have three more public hearings on the rate hike.LIPA Events