SAN ANTONIO -

Officials with CPS Energy asked the San Antonio City Council to approve a 4.75 percent rate increase for 2014 Wednesday.

The increase would impact electric and gas customers and would generate approximately $76 million.

CPS President and CEO Doyle Beneby said a majority of the revenue would be used for operational and infrastructure costs such as, “refurbish plants and assets that are reaching 30 plus years of age, underground cable that we use to improve reliability to our customers, and pole replacements.”

CPS officials said the money will also help the utility deal with the city’s growing population.

Customers said they were disappointed that the increase comes at a time when most families are struggling financially.

“As a customer, I’m a little bit upset,” said John Lujan. “But I‘ve got to look at that facts. They need to gain the trust of citizens first.”

“I think that's real wrong,” said customer Rudy Ruiz. “It’s already hard times as it is.”

Utility officials said the 4.75 percent increase is lower than the 5.2 percent increase the utility had planned to ask for.

To ease the financial burden on low- and fixed-income customers, CPS is expanding its Affordability Discount Program to 80,000 customers.

City officials said over the next several weeks the utility will have to prove why the increase is needed before they approve it.

“They're going to have to make a legitimate case that these things are creating a necessity for a rate increase,” said District 10 Councilman Carlton Soules.

“I'm hearing from my constituents loud and clear that they want transparency and they want accountability,” said District 3 Councilwoman Rebecca Viagran. "That's what I want to hear from them how are they going to put that plan out in front of us."

CPS officials said the request is just the first of several that will be made every other year for the next 10 years, leaving customers to accept the reality that the cost of keeping the lights on and their homes heated is going up.

“Would you rather have no electricity?” asked one customer.

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