Entergy Mississippi has announced a $3.2-million pledge, funded by its shareholders, to help customers with high bills brought on primarily by high natural gas prices. While the effort will apply to all residential customers, it will focus mainly on helping those with low to moderate incomes.
More than half of the power Entergy Mississippi generates comes from natural gas, and the cost to buy this fuel has more than doubled in the last year. These fuel costs are passed through to customers with no profit to the company. However, these persistent high natural gas prices are expected to affect customer bills later this year and into the next.
“We not only want to alert our customers ahead of time when we see factors that can affect their bills, we also want to give them the help and tools they need to prepare for those bills,” said Haley Fisackerly, Entergy Mississippi president and CEO.
Entergy announced four initiatives designed to help customers:
$150 bill credit for moderate-income customers. Nearly $1.1 million will fund a temporary bill payment assistance program for Mississippi customers. The focus will be on moderate-income customers who struggle to pay utility bills, but do not qualify for federal bill assistance programs. These customers would receive a one-time $150 bill credit.
Up to $1,000 for disabled and older customers in need. More than $540,000 will provide emergency utility bill payments for one or more months to older adults and customers with disabilities facing financial hardship. These funds will also provide agencies with administrative fees to cover added expenses associated with an increased volume of requests for help.
Free $35 energy efficiency kits. Nearly $1.1 million will pay for money-saving energy efficiency kits. Customers can get these kits at community events in Entergy’s service area this fall or can request them online at https://msentergysolutions-marketplace.com/. Available to all customers, the kits can potentially save customers $5 per month or $60 annually, and combined with Entergy’s available online tools, can save customers as much as $300 annually.
$460,000 for customer education. This money will fund a campaign to make Entergy customers aware of additional energy-efficiency and bill help available to them. This will include outreach and assistance to low-income households on how they can apply for federal bill assistance in their area, including the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program known as LIHEAP.
“As part of a settlement, we worked with the Mississippi Public Service commissioners to get bill payment relief in the form of an $80 rebate to all customers in September and a $15 per 1,000-kilowatt benefit toward their bill through next year,” said Fisackerly. “Now we’re working with them again, and with our community partners, to expand on that effort and help Mississippians get additional relief.”
Fisackerly said the company is also addressing the natural gas crisis by taking steps to limit its use of natural gas.
“We are investing in Grand Gulf Nuclear Station’s low-cost power and incorporating more renewable energy into our generation portfolio,” he said. “An example of that is the recently-completed Sunflower Solar Station in the Mississippi delta.”
All Entergy charitable contributions come from shareholder profit, not from customers. No costs associated with Entergy charitable contributions are passed through to customers.