"The health and safety of our customers, employees and communities is Entergy's top priority," said Leo Denault, chairman and CEO of Entergy Corporation. "For more than 100 years, Entergy has never wavered in our commitment to supporting our customers and the communities we serve. This pandemic is no different. During this challenging time, we are helping lessen the impact of this crisis on the most vulnerable in our communities. I strongly encourage our business partners to join us in this effort."
As devastating and disruptive as this crisis is for everyone, we know from past experience that those most heavily impacted are ALICE households (low-wage working families) and low-income elderly and disabled customers - roughly 40%-50% of Entergy's customer base.
"We know from experience that working families and low-income elderly and disabled customers are hardest hit during times of crisis," said Patty Riddlebarger, vice president of Entergy's corporate social responsibility. "We are working quickly to make funds available to community partners that serve vulnerable households to lessen the economic impact of the COVID-19 crisis and ensure that families have the resources they need to get by during this time of uncertainty."
To support our most vulnerable customers, Entergy shareholders are committing $700,000 to the COVID-19 Emergency Relief Fund to help qualifying customers with basic needs such as food and nutrition, rent and mortgage assistance, and other critical needs until financial situations become more stable. Grants from the fund will be provided to United Way organizations and other nonprofit partners across Entergy's service area that are providing services to impacted households.
Company shareholders will also match employee contributions to the COVID-19 relief efforts of local United Way organizations up to $100,000 to maximize impact.
In addition to establishing the COVID-19 Emergency Relief Fund, Entergy is taking additional steps to support and protect our customers during this crisis, including:
With support from our regulators, we are temporarily suspending customer disconnects as we continue to monitor the situation.
We are working with our network of community advocates to request a funding increase of the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program to help alleviate financial hardships caused by COVID-19 on vulnerable households.
We are developing bill payment solutions and tools to help customers pay their accumulated balances once the disconnect moratorium is lifted.
Already in place to support vulnerable customers is Entergy's The Power to Care program, which provides emergency bill payment assistance to seniors and disabled individuals. To mark the 20th anniversary of Entergy's low-income customer initiative, the limit of shareholders' dollar for dollar match of customer donations was increased from $500,000 to $1 million per year. Shareholders continue to match employee donations dollar for dollar with no limit.