Louisville Gas and Electric and Kentucky Utilities will ask the state Public Service Commission for a rate hike to help pay for widespread improvements across their electrical and natural gas systems.

The companies announced plans for the upgrades on Monday. Spokeswoman Natasha Collins said the improvements will cost $2.2 billion.

“Those investments will allow us to improve the safety of our system,” Collins said. “They’ll also allow us to reduce outage times for our customers and to enhance service to our customers overall.”

Collins said the upgrades include the replacement of aging equipment and new technology to more quickly isolate outages.

If the PSC approves the hikes, KU residential customers would see an average monthly increase of $7.16 in their electric bill. Collins said LG&E customers will also see a hike.

“An LG&E residential customer that’s using an average of 957 kilowatt hours a month would be expected to see an increase of $9.65,” she said. “An LG&E residential natural gas customer who’s using an average of 5,500 cubic feet of natural gas a month would expect to see an increase of $2.99.”

Collins said even with the hikes, the rates would still be among the lowest in the nation.

Rick Howlett is host of WFPL's weekly talk show, "In Conversation."