Group plans rally against National Grid rates at Caroga Lake store

Donna Mastro, the owner of The Red Store on Route 29A across from the state campsite, contends Natio
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Donna Mastro, the owner of The Red Store on Route 29A across from the state campsite, contends National Grid is treating her and her convenience store unfairly, tacking large sums onto her normal $600-per-month bills.

Mastro said the add-ons are the installments she negotiated on an $1,100 deposit demanded by the company after she was late paying a $200 bill.

Now, she said, the company has apparently determined she was late paying the last $429 installment — which she denies — and is demanding the entire balance. She said she was also sent a disconnect warning.

As a result, she said Friday, her business is in jeopardy. And friends and supporters have formed a group, Citizens Against Excessive National Grid Rates, which will conduct an anti-National Grid rally in front of the store from noon to 2 p.m. Sunday.

One of the organizers, Hank McGrath, said the public is invited. He said he expects 50 to 60 people to join the rally. Protest signs are ready for distribution, he said.

McGrath said the group mailed a letter Friday to Gov. Andrew Cuomo asking for an investigation into National Grid’s rate policies.

“Some people are making choices between buying milk and paying the electric bill,” said McGrath, who also asserts National Grid bills forced him to close his Johnstown retail store, McGrath Imports.

“People are scared,” he said, questioning National Grid’s rate structure and ability to impose additional fees on a monthly bill. “Nobody can understand delivery charges,” he said.

National Grid spokesman Patrick Stella, responding Friday, said while he cannot comment on a specific customer’s bill, the state Public Service Commission spent 11 months examining the company’s rate structure and policies before giving its approval. The new rates took effect Feb. 1, he said.

He said the company is certainly willing to discuss the group’s grievances.

PSC spokeswoman Anne V. Dalton said consumers are always welcome to contact her agency’s Office of Consumer Services (1-800-342-3377) to discuss complaints and issues.

“We’re happy to investigate it for her,” she said of Mastro and The Red Store.

Dalton said there is always the possibility a customer such as Mastro has been mistakenly placed in the wrong rate class.

Categories: Business

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