The Maine Public Utilities Commission will hold a hearing next week in Portland on a proposed rate increase for natural gas by Northern Utilities, which does business as Unitil.

The hearing will be held Thursday at 6 p.m. at the Abromson Center on Bedford Street at the University of Southern Maine.

Northern Utilities is proposing to increase its rates by 7.1 percent.

The hearing is a public witness hearing, meaning any member of the public may present either sworn or unsworn testimony on the rate increase. Only sworn testimony becomes evidence in the case.

For more information on the rate case, go to the PUC’s website at maine.gov/mpuc/online/index.shtml and click on the link to the case management system. The docket number for the rate increase request is 2017-00065.

The PUC is expected to make a decision on the rate hike request in early 2018.