Mississippi’s 22.4% poverty rate is highest in the nation
JACKSON, Miss. –
Employees of Entergy Mississippi, Inc. and The Salvation Army are joining other
Entergy employees and low-income advocates from across the country to urge
Congress to restore America''s energy safety-net program to its former $5.1
billion funding level.
The effort is part of
the National Fuel Funds Network’s LIHEAP Summer Action Day on Capitol Hill.
LIHEAP is the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program.
“Hot weather records are
being shattered this summer across America, making this a more critical issue
than ever,” said Napoleon Johnson, Entergy Mississippi vice president of
customer operations and a LIHEAP Action Day participant.
Current 2012 funding for
LIHEAP is $3.47 billion. U.S. House and Senate committee members have endorsed
funding the program next year at current levels, even as poverty is rising to
levels not seen since 1965. The measures await further review and votes in the
full U.S. House and Senate.
“It’s hard to fathom why
LIHEAP should be 30 percent smaller in 2013 than it was in 2009 through 2011,”
said Johnson. “LIHEAP saves lives. It’s especially important to Mississippi’s
elderly and infirm who are ill-equipped to handle these record temperatures.
“Combined with hotter
temperatures,” he said, “America’s continued recession is endangering more and
more of our neighbors. An additional 674,000 Americans became impoverished
between 2008 and 2011 in just the four states Entergy serves. Mississippi
families need LIHEAP more than ever.”
LIHEAP helps low-wage
workers and low-income families in financial crisis pay their summer cooling and
winter heating costs.
positive impact to those in need depends entirely upon the financial commitment
Congress chooses to make to this life-saving program,” Johnson said.
prioritizes households with seniors, disabled and preschoolers, the program is
also increasingly reaching households of U.S. veterans and even active-duty
members of America’s military services.
This summer the need for
energy assistance is rising with the mercury. Record hot weather can drive such
at-risk citizens to make risky choices with potential life-or-death
implications. On average, there are 400 heat-related deaths a year in the U.S.
Energy costs as a
percentage of income are often four times higher for families that qualify for
LIHEAP than for families in higher income brackets. Mississippi’s 24.4 percent
poverty rate is the nation’s highest.
“We’re doing all we can
to help these Mississippians meet their heating and cooling needs, and that
includes working with our partners, like The Salvation Army, to ensure our
representatives in Congress are fully aware of this issue,” said Johnson.
In addition to engaging
representatives in Congress, Entergy Mississippi also provides local aid through
the company’s Beat the Heat program and The Power to Care. The Power to Care
fund, which is administered by The Salvation Army, allows customers and
employees to contribute to a fund that helps low-income customers with monthly
utility bills. Shareholders match those donations.
Also, new online tools
recently introduced at
entergy.com/savemoney provide customers interactive virtual assistance to
help them manage their electricity usage and access payment options.
“Initiatives like these
can really make a difference,” Johnson said. “Through LIHEAP Summer Action Day,
we’re urging Congress to look to the future and provide the $5.1 billion needed
for LIHEAP. By doing so, we are helping ensure warm-weather states like
Mississippi get the necessary funds to help those in need manage the devastating
heat of summer.”
Inc. provides electricity to more than 437,000 customers in 45 counties. It is a
subsidiary of Entergy Corporation. Entergy Corporation is an integrated energy
company engaged primarily in electric power production and retail distribution
operations. Entergy owns and operates power plants with approximately 30,000
megawatts of electric generating capacity, including more than 10,000 megawatts
of nuclear power, making it one of the nation’s leading nuclear generators.
Entergy delivers electricity to 2.8 million utility customers in Arkansas,
Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas. Entergy has annual revenues of more than $11
billion and approximately 15,000 employees.