Bill payment help, energy-efficiency tools and more on tap.
On Wednesday, Entergy Mississippi announced a $3.2 million pledge, funded by its shareholders, to help customers with high bills brought on primarily by high natural gas prices.
On Wednesday, @EntergyMS announced a $3.2 million pledge, funded by its shareholders, to help customers with high bills brought on primarily by high natural gas prices.
— Yall Politics (@MSyallpolitics) September 14, 2022
Entergy Mississippi said that more than half of the power they generate 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,” a release from Entergy Mississippi said. “However, these persistent high natural gas prices are expected to affect customer bills later this year and into the next.”
Entergy Mississippi 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 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 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. 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 (LIHEAP).
Entergy Mississippi CEO Haley Fisackerly said that they not only want to alert customers ahead of time when they see factors that can affect their bills, they also want to give customers the help and tools they need to prepare for those bills.
“We’re all familiar costs have been rising,” Fisackerly said during a press briefing on Wednesday. “Inflation is driving up everything that we use in our lives. And we, and our colleagues, our fellow employees, we know exactly what everybody is feeling. We are especially concerned about our customers”
The Entergy Mississippi CEO said that one of the greatest problems they are seeing is the rising natural gas prices. Fisackerly said that not only are natural gas prices up, this summer temperatures have risen and inflation is up, impacting everything.
“We know exactly how that feels,” Fisackerly continued. “So, we’re stepping up. Today I’m joined by fellow employees and the Mississippi Public Service Commission to announce to announce Operation Bill Assist.”
Northern PSC Commissioner Brandon Presley said that this is a proactive approach that Entergy is taking to get ahead of these type of issues and make sure customers are aware that costs are rising and there is help on the way.
“The fact of the matter is, everyone’s got to have electricity,” Presley said. “And when we can take steps to lower that cost, that is lowering the cost of living in the poorest state in the United States of America.”
Presley thanked Entergy shareholders for taking responsibility to try to help those who are out there struggling.
Commissioner Presley said that one of the most exciting parts of Operation Bill Assist is the $1.1 million that is going to go to Mississippians who are just outside that threshold to receive federal funds.
“It’s a shame and a disgrace that only 12% of the dollars that come in to be paid to help those who are struggling actually is utilized,” Presley said. “It’s silly and stupid for us to turn federal funds back to the federal government when they can be here benefiting the people of Mississippi.”
Central PSC Commissioner Brent Bailey said that the Mississippi Public Service Commission remains committed to ensuring regulated utilities provide affordable power to Mississippi consumers.
“We appreciate Entergy Mississippi’s efforts to provide the help and tools needed for their customers lower their energy bills and put more money back in their pockets,” Bailey said.
Fisackerly added that as part of a settlement, Entergy Mississippi 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.
“Now we’re working with them again, and with our community partners, to expand on that effort and help Mississippians get additional relief,” Fisackerly continued.
Entergy Mississippi will also be addressing the natural gas crisis by taking steps to limit its use of natural gas. Fisackerly said that they are investing in Grand Gulf Nuclear Station’s low-cost power and incorporating more renewable energy into their generation portfolio.
“Our efforts do not end today,” Fisackerly said at the press briefing. “This is just a small part of what we’re doing to address the rising cost of natural gas and other impacts of our business. Today was a focus on the demand side. We want our customers to know that our focused also on the supplies side.”