The following is a news release from Entergy Gulf States Louisiana, LLC.
BATON ROUGE, LA - As cold, wintry weather settles in, many Louisianans find themselves facing tough financial situations. Entergy Gulf States Louisiana, L.L.C. is offering help to customers whose income may be stretched.
Approximately 20 to 25 percent of Entergy's 2.7 million customers need government assistance to survive. The latest poverty report released by the U. S. Census showed that the number of Americans living in poverty was the highest since 1997. The four states that Entergy serves were in the top nine with the highest statewide poverty rates. Louisiana ranked third.
Various state and federal programs are available to help customers manage their bills. The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program provides money to help individuals with energy bills and other energy-related expenses. LIHEAP is funded through the federal government and works with local community action agencies to help customers pay for and keep electric service in their homes. Both homeowner and renter households are eligible to receive LIHEAP assistance. The household's annual income must be at or below 150 percent of federal poverty level. Energy costs must also be documented.
"We have a number of customer assistance opportunities available to our customers," said Sheila Pounders, Entergy Gulf States Louisiana's regional customer service manager for Southwest Louisiana. "We encourage our customers to contact us, or charitable, nonprofit agencies in their communities that have assistance programs, as soon as they think they could have a problem paying their electricity bills. It is easier for the customers to get help before their past-due balance becomes too large."
Entergy Gulf States Louisiana's Power to Care fund helps low-income, elderly or disabled customers pay their energy bills in times of financial distress. Entergy employees and customers donate to The Power to Care, with company shareholders matching new contributions up to $500,000 annually.
The company works with several agencies in Louisiana to distribute these funds, such as parish Councils on Aging. Inquiries on applying for The Power to Care should be directed to one of the agencies listed. The list is available going to entergy-louisiana.com > My Home > Need Help Paying Your Bill?
A donation to The Power to Care is a small thing people can do to make a big difference in someone else's life. Donations may be made by checking a box to add a dollar to the monthly bill, or online through the secure Web site at entergy-louisiana.com.
To help manage payments, Entergy Gulf States Louisiana provides payment extensions and payment plans for qualified customers having difficulty paying their bills. Additionally, the company can help customers avoid disconnections and the fees and deposits that often are required to restore service.
Another program is Entergy's Energy Emergency Deferred Billing Program. This is an ongoing program to assist eligible Louisiana pre-enrolled customers during Louisiana Public Service Commission declared energy emergency periods. Enrollment can take place at anytime and, if pre-enrolled in this program when an energy emergency occurs, a customer pays a part of the resulting bill over a period of 12 months.
To help manage bill payments, Entergy Gulf States Louisiana offers these programs:
- Pick–A–Date - Only customers know the best time to pay their bill each month. With Pick-A-Date, they may be able to select the date each month when their electric bill is due.
- Level Billing - The Level Billing option allows customers to pay about the same amount for electric service every month, making it easier to budget and plan for this cost, regardless of the season and usage. Under this program, each bill is essentially an average of 12 months of previous bills. Bills will vary each month, but not as much as before.
- Automatic Monthly Payments - Automatic Monthly Payments allows Entergy Gulf States Louisiana to automatically deduct the amount of the monthly electric bill from a checking account. Customers don't have to worry about bills, due dates or late fees when they enroll in this option. A statement—not a bill— will be mailed each month, showing the amount of the bill and the date of withdrawal.
Energy efficiency programs are available as well. These programs help reduce energy usage without sacrificing comfort. Customers can find answers to energy-related topics, including what goes into energy costs and what Entergy Gulf States Louisiana is doing to ensure affordable energy, at EntergyAnswers.com. The Web site also offers easy-to-use tips to help customers lower their energy bills.
The company's new Bill Analyzer offers customers a simple overview that shows why their bill amount may have changed compared to previous bills. Details on customer usage, energy charges and other factors are available for customers who want more information. To access this feature, customers should register for My Account Online at entergy-louisiana.com. My Account Online also allows customers to view and pay their bill, view their billing and payment history and update account information – all with a few clicks of a computer mouse.
"The programs and plans mentioned above, and more, are available to customers at entergy-louisiana.com, or by calling 1-800-ENTERGY," added Sheila Pounders.