BUFFALO, N.Y. -- National Fuel is looking to raise gas rates, but it needs public approval first.

Customers who would be affected by the increase voiced their concerns at a hearing Wednesday evening at the Buffalo and Erie County Public Library at 1 Lafayette Square.

"Consider that the majority of your customers here in Buffalo are low-income families, elderly, disabled, and it's gonna affect us the hardest," said Buffalo resident Guy Cutright. "We're at the point where it's balance food late in the month or with the gas bill."

This hike wouldn't go into effect until April, National Fuels says. It adds it hasn't raised rates in nine years. It also says the proposed about 7.8% rate hike would help pay for necessary infrastructure improvements to transport gas to Western New Yorkers.