A rate hike could be in store for New Jersey Natural Gas (NJNG) customers.

New Jersey Natural Gas truck (NJ Resources)

The utility has asked the state Board of Public Utilities (BPU) to approve an approximately $148 million increase to its delivery rates. If approved, the change would increase the average household bill by about 24%, or $21.69 per month.

NJNG says the increase is needed to the cost of constructing, operating, and maintaining infrastructure. It is not expected to have any effect on this winter's heating bills, which the utility predicts will be 17% lower this year than last. That's due in part to the $76 million Basic Gas Supply Service bill credit reflecting lower natural gas costs, which remains in effect through February 29, 2016.

NJNG says even if the increase is approved, average bills will still be 29% lower than they were after the utility's last approved rate hike. The company has not requested an increase in its delivery rates since 2007.