Eversource has initiated the process for rate increases the power company says would increase average electric bills by nearly 7% over a three-year period starting next spring if approved by the state\u2019s Public Utilities Regulatory Authority. The company announced last Friday, that it submitted a \u201cletter of intent\u201d to PURA saying the company \u201cwill file a three-year rate application within the next 30 days.\u201d In order to \u201cextend capital investments,\u201d Eversource asked for rate increases of $255.8 million, $45 million and $36 million in each of the succeeding years. \u201cIf approved, the average increase for all customer rate classes would be 6.79% and go into effect May 21, 2018, with rate changes for some customer categories being lower and others being higher than this average,\u201d according to an Eversource press release sent out on Oct. 27. It appears the company will use as justification for rate increases its need for more resources \u201cto continue making targeted investments in the electric system like smart switches, stronger poles and wires, and enhanced tree trimming.\u201d \u201cWe\u2019re always working to better serve our customers and as a result, they are experiencing fewer and shorter outages thanks to the strategic investments we\u2019ve made in the communities we serve,\u201d said Eversource President of Electric Operations in Connecticut Craig Hallstrom. \u201cWe also work hard to achieve top-tier reliability for customers with efforts like our comprehensive tree trimming program and the addition of smart technology on the system, while operating our business efficiently.\u201d \u00a0 Eversource officials have said the company\u2019s improvements in the past five years have reduced the number of storm-related outages by 34% and have helped restore outages more quickly. The company said it has also invested in \u201cadvanced technology solutions to protect the electric grid from cybersecurity threats,\u201d adding such measures improve reliability for customers. The authority\u2019s \u201cpurpose is to ensure that utility customers receive reliable and safe service at reasonable rates and that utility companies operate efficiently,\u201d according to a message left by Chair Katie Dykes, Vice Chair John W. Betkoski III and Commissioner Michael Caron at ct.gov\/pura. Applications requires a formal review with public hearings by PURA. It is too soon in the process for PURA to set a public hearing date or dates for Eversource\u2019s application. Once the process begins, the agency takes public comments at a toll-free number (1-800-382-4586) for finding out the date, time and location of any hearing. At hearings, a commissioner or hearing officer asks if residents or customers want to speak for the record. Those who cannot appear in person may send comments in writing to firstname.lastname@example.org or to the attention of: Executive Secretary, Public Utilities Regulatory Authority, 10 Franklin Square, New Britain, CT 06051.