DAYTON: A Dayton-based power company says a rate hike that will amount to about $5 a month for the average customer is critical to its financial health.

The Dayton Power & Light Co. pleaded its case in a public hearing Tuesday in which it got support and criticism.

The company says the increase would add up to $600 million over five years. Itís critical because DP&L is losing customers and revenue.

The Dayton Daily News reports that the request has been criticized by industry and the Ohio Consumersí Counsel. The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio is expected to make a decision on the request sometime after March.

Dayton Power & Light serves more than 500,000 customers in 24 counties in western Ohio.