ORANGE, Mass (WWLP) – Residents and business owners packed Trail Head and Miller’s River Cafe in Orange, Thursday night, protesting a 37% increase in their electric rates. They’re serviced by National Grid, along with more than 100,000 people throughout western Massachusetts.
“A great turnout tonight (Thursday), it was very peaceful, people were shredding their National Grid bills, signed a petition and we’re hoping some action will be taken for this,” Polly Bixby of Orange said.
Aside from shredding, customers shopped with flashlights, as the cafe and shop ran only on back up electricity. Residents and business owners say the increase, which started on November, is costing them a lot of extra money they can’t afford.
“When I saw the bill for the first time, I gulped. I went, ‘you’ve got to be kidding.’ It’s not just our bill at home but it’s the bill at the business as well so it’s a double whammy,” said Kris Burns, who owns Miller’s River Café.
However, it’s not just National Grid, Western Massachusetts Electric Company customers will see a 30% increase starting January 1st. That’s an average of $26 more each month, causing many families to make big changes.
“As far as here at the store, we’ve replaced most of our lights with LED’s now. The big tube lights in the ceiling we’re going to have to do something different with those. At home we’re putting our clothes on the clothes rack instead of using the drier,” said Brenda Anderson, the owner of Trail Head.
Power companies blame a shortage of natural gas to generate electricity. WMECo’s increase goes into effect January 1st.