THE BRONX - Consolidated Edison is asking state utility regulators to allow a rate increase that will enable the New York-based power company to raise $654 million.The company says the hikes would to run from April 2009 to April 2010 and would add about $6.18 to the average household bill and $120 to its average business customer bills in the city and Westchester.

Con Edison also proposed a three-year plan that would increase average monthly bills by $5.38 for households and $101 for businesses in each of the next three years, raising $557 million annually for the utility company.

The company says it needs the extra money to maintain and upgrade its power system and cover rising equipment costs.

Just last March, regulators approved a $425 million rate hike after the company requested $1.2 billion.