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
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
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
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
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.
is chairman and
chief executive officer
of Entergy Corporation.