Summit Natural Gas is asking regulators to approve a substantial rate hike.
In this Feb. 27, 2014, file photo, natural gas pipes are stacked in Lincoln. Credit: Nick Sambides Jr. / BDN

Summit Natural Gas customers will have two opportunities later this month to weigh in on a proposed rate increase.

The average Summit customer pays about $170 a month. That compares with $90 to $120 a month on average for customers served by Maine’s other three natural gas companies, according to the Maine Office of the Public Advocate.

Under the proposed distribution rate increase, that bill would rise to about $350 a month, which would amount to the largest ever rate hike requested by a Maine utility, the public advocate said Thursday.

“If approved, it will impose a terrible financial burden on Summit’s customers,” Maine Public Advocate William Harwood said.

In response to concerns raised by the public advocate, the Maine Public Utilities Commission will hold two public hearings about the requested rate hike.

The first is scheduled for 6 p.m. Sept. 22 at the Cumberland Town Hall on Tuttle Road in Cumberland Center. The second hearing is slated for 6 p.m. Sept. 29 at the commission’s office on Katherine Drive in Hallowell.

Summit Natural Gas serves the Kennebec Valley, as well as Cumberland, Falmouth and Yarmouth.