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2010 Low Income Report
Keeping Our Promises
Commitments and Progress
Profiles of Power in Caring
The Greatest Generation to The New Poor
The Poverty Myth and The Poverty Math
Federal/LIHEAP Report
Energy Efficiency and Weatherization
Grants and Investments
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Use Your Power to Make a Difference
Making Things Brighter Awards and Summits
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Keeping Our Promises

2010 Low Income Initiative Progress Report

Keeping Our Promises


A Message from Wayne Leonard

A little more than 10 years ago, I asked Entergy employees and community advocates to join me in working for a set of public and corporate policies to help ensure that no customer would ever have to worry about whether he or she can pay the electric bill or go without other basic necessities like food or prescribed medications.

I am proud of—and humbled by—the success of Entergy's Low-Income Customer Assistance Initiative. We have made substantial progress in strengthening both our company's own practices and enhancing public policy in the states we serve; for that, I thank a team of committed community advocates and employees who have worked tirelessly combating not only the problem, but those who stand in the way of resolving it.

Entergy's low-income customer champions serve as the conscience of our company, and they have performed admirably. They created a course of action that has served as a model for our industry and beyond.

It is an effort driven by business principles and the conviction to strengthen the communities where we live and work. We put in place a disciplined, multi-pronged strategy—one I recognize must continue for as long as society is divided as it has been for over 200 years on these issues—to help more and more of our low-income customers achieve self-sufficiency.

Entergy measures the impact of our initiatives using both quantitative and qualitative measures. The metrics are impressive. We have helped increase funding for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) from $1.8 billion to $5.1 billion. The four states served by Entergy have seen federal Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP) funding grow from $6.5 million to $8.5 million. While the growth is good, the additional funding through the American Recovery and Re-Investment Act (ARRA) of 2009 was "real" money—our four states received $475 million. This suggests that under just the ARRA alone, more than 73,000 homes in our region could benefit from efficiency improvements. It is a tremendous opportunity to create long-standing change.

Our advocacy for the creation of public benefit funds in Arkansas, Texas and New Orleans has been successful as well, and we intend to continue the fight in Louisiana and Mississippi. We have revamped our charitable customer assistance fund, increasing annual donations by customers, employees and Entergy shareholders to The Power to Care Fund over the last 10 years from $681,000 to $2.3 million. And we are embracing the use of social media to expand our reach and our donor base.

In addition, the creation of asset-building programs in 69 communities has helped more than 19,000 individuals and pumped about $69 million into local economies, when you consider the economic multiplier effect.

We are continuing our work to improve the education system. We sponsored studies on the need to expand education and economic opportunities in Louisiana and Mississippi. Among our latest efforts has been a $300,000 commitment to help fund a three-year pre-kindergarten education pilot program in Mississippi.

Underlying the success of our initiatives are highly effective partnerships with community groups dedicated to helping those bound by generational cycles of poverty.

And our work is far from over. The depth and breadth of poverty in our region is both shocking and unacceptable in the wealthiest country in the world. Government statistics show the percentage of people living in poverty actually increased between 1999 and 2007, the year before the recession left millions more jobless.

How to help these people, called by some "the new poor," is one of the great challenges we face both now and in the months and years ahead as our economy restructures and the world begins to seriously address climate change.

Although we have very strong opinions on how best to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, whatever system emerges, the burden must not fall on those among us least able to afford it.

In the United States, our support has been for cap-and-dividend, which would recycle revenue to reduce the economic burden of increased power costs for low- and middle-income families.

Many of our customers simply use too much energy or don't use it wisely. Simple awareness and education can go a long way to lessening their energy cost. One of the ways we are addressing this is with a smart meter pilot test for 11,500 low-income customers in New Orleans that will provide valuable information on ways customers can help themselves free up more income for other uses.

As I mentioned earlier, we use a variety of measures to gauge where our work stands. This year's report looks beyond the numbers cited above and tells the stories of just a few of the tens of thousands of people helped over the last decade. For those engaged with us in this endeavor, the following pages provide an affirmation of your hard work. For those new to our Low-Income Customer Assistance Initiative, we hope the stories inspire you to join the effort.

 


J. Wayne Leonard

is chairman and
chief executive officer
of Entergy Corporation.




 

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