What is Entergy's COVID-19 Enhanced Customer Assistance Plan?
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What is coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19)?
Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is a respiratory illness that can spread from person to person. The virus that causes COVID-19 is a novel coronavirus that was first identified during an investigation into an outbreak in Wuhan, China.
Where can I find out more about this virus?
The best source of information regarding COVID-19 comes from the organizations working the response efforts, such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization. The CDC regularly updates a dashboard that displays the reach of COVID-19 around the world.
How is Entergy responding to COVID-19?
During this time of national emergency, we have several commitments to our stakeholders. One is to provide reliable power to the communities we serve, which keeps our homes, civic organizations and medical response teams running. That means we will continue critical operations, including refueling and maintenance outages.
At the same time, we are increasing our efforts at plant sites to maintain a healthy population, including more frequent disinfecting of work surfaces, internal social distancing where possible and screening workers.
We'll continue working with local and federal officials to make sure we power our communities in a safe and secure manner.
How is Entergy helping customers who are impacted?
We understand the impact that COVID-19 has had on our customers and are taking steps to support and protect our customers during these challenging and uncertain times.
We encourage our customers to make payments on their account. However, if customers are having trouble paying in full, we’ll work with them directly on payment arrangements that fit their specific needs.
Entergy will send a letter or email to residential and commercial customers with past due bills to offer the payment plan options.
We have additional flexible payment plan options that are focused on providing support for our residential, commercial and small industrial customers to help in their recovery.
- Working on a case-by-case basis, our programs and bill payment plan options will allow customers to extend the payments of past due amounts over a longer period of time.
- Residential customers will have the option to fold-in past due amounts into a Levelized Billing plan that will add the past due balances to the accumulated difference.
- And for the first time, commercial customers will be offered deferred payment arrangements as an option to manage bills.
Customers should access the payment plan options and arrangements through the recently launched energy portal, myEntergy, or the automated call system through 1-800-ENTERGY (1-800-368-3749) as soon as possible to avoid potential, extended delays that could result from limited access to representatives due to increased call volume.
- Entergy New Orleans: Customers can also visit one of our two walk-in centers to discuss options that are available.
If customers would like to speak with an agent when calling 1-800-ENTERGY (1-800-368-3749), please be patient with us as you may experience longer than normal wait times. Agents are working to provide individual solutions that will work to fit customer needs.
- Entergy Louisiana, Mississippi, New Orleans and Texas are waiving all COVID-19 late payment fees for customers (including ENO and ELL natural gas customers) calling the contact centers and EBC seeking payment arrangements.
- Entergy Arkansas is awaiting approval from APSC.
- In addition, Entergy Louisiana and Entergy Texas are waiving late fees for all customers at this time. For customers who do not need payment arrangements, late fees will be removed automatically, and as such, they do not need to call the contact center, EBC or their account representative.
We are temporarily suspending service disconnections for nonpayment.
- Entergy Arkansas: Effective March 16, we’ve suspended service disconnections until further notice as the situation evolves. Read more info here.
- Entergy New Orleans: While the moratorium on disconnects has been lifted, Entergy New Orleans is committed to working with our customers in providing every opportunity to make payment arrangements. We have extended the temporary suspension of service disconnects for non-payment until further notice.
- Entergy Louisiana: There are no plans to resume disconnections in the immediate future, and we are taking steps to do everything we can to help our customers. We encourage our customers, however, to make payments on their account. If customers are having trouble paying in full, we’ll work with them directly on payment arrangements that fit their specific needs. To assist our customers during this time, we have implemented an Enhanced Customer Assistance Plan that includes flexible payment options, extended time to pay, and the waiving of late fees. Entergy Louisiana will continue to monitor the pandemic impact and update our Enhanced Customer Assistance Plan as appropriate.
- Entergy Texas: There are no plans to resume disconnections at this time and we are taking steps to do everything we can to help our customers. We encourage our customers, however, to make payments on their account. If customers are having trouble paying in full, we’ll work with them directly on payment arrangements that fit their specific needs. To assist our customers during this time, we have implemented an Enhanced Customer Assistance Plan that includes flexible payment options, extended time to pay, and the waiving of late fees, if there are any. Entergy Texas will continue to monitor the pandemic impact and update our Enhanced Customer Assistance Plan as appropriate.
- Entergy Mississippi: While the moratorium on disconnects has been lifted, we are committed to working with our customers in providing every opportunity to make payment arrangements, which is why we have extended the temporary suspension of service disconnects for non-payment until further notice. We are also taking extraordinary steps to do everything we can to help our customers. We have implemented an Enhanced Customer Assistance Plan that includes offering flexible options to extend time to pay, waiving late fees with payment arrangements and reimbursing credit/debit card convenience fees.
How do I make a payment safely?
The safest, most efficient and effective way for customers to currently make a payment is to leverage our digital payment channels.
- Entergy Arkansas, P.O. Box 8101, Baton Rouge, Louisiana 70891.
- Entergy Louisiana, P.O. Box 8108, Baton Rouge, Louisiana 70891.
- Entergy New Orleans, P.O. Box 8106, Baton Rouge, Louisiana 70891.
- Entergy Mississippi, P.O. Box 8105, Baton Rouge, Louisiana 70891.
- Entergy Texas, P.O. Box 8104, Baton Rouge, Louisiana 70891.
New Orleans: Our Customer Care Centers in New Orleans remain open for those who require in-person services. We have instituted a number of intentional measures at our Customer Care Centers in connection with efforts to ensure customers and employees remain safe. Some of the measures such as customer-spacing and fewer cashiers may slow service, but they are necessary due to COVID-19. In addition, masks or face coverings that cover the nose and mouth are required to enter both walk-in centers.
Mississippi: We are temporarily closing our customer assistance desks in Mississippi to mitigate risk to our customers, communities and employees from COVID-19. Although we aren’t able to tell you how long the customer assistance desks will remain closed, we’ll reopen as soon as we believe it is safe to do so.
Entergy is temporarily reimbursing fees paid by customers on credit/debit card transactions. While these customers will still be assessed a $2.95 fee by BillMatrix to process a credit/debit card transaction, they will receive a credit of $2.95 on their next month’s utility bill.
Some customer options may differ from one Entergy operating company to another. We’re working closely with our regulators in each area that we serve to provide the most helpful options to customers possible.
Effective July 1, Entergy New Orleans customers will have an additional resource to help with electric and gas bills with the launch of the new City Council Cares Program.
- The City Council Cares (CCC) Program provides eligible New Orleanians the ability to receive a total of $400 of direct bill credit at a maximum of $100 per month for four months. Entergy New Orleans residential customers who have an active Entergy New Orleans electric or electric/gas combination account can visit entergyneworleans.com/citycouncilcares, text CCC to 69516, call (504) 493-7004, or visit one of the company’s two New Orleans walk-in customer care centers to apply for the program. Applicants must provide a verification of unemployment benefits document dated on or after March 16, 2020, provided by the Louisiana Workforce Commission matching the Entergy New Orleans account service address.
Does the company have a response plan?
Yes. Since January, members of Entergy's incident response organization and the corporate support function have been updating employees as necessary and meeting to review the current situation and to prepare for what may come.
Entergy is and has been prepared to respond to a pandemic. The company has a robust pandemic response plan that outlines and details steps needed to protect our employees, while working to ensure we can continue to provide power to our customers with little to no interruption. This plan has been activated.
Will Entergy employees continue to work?
We understand the impact that COVID-19 has had on our workers and customers and have taken steps to support and protect everyone during these challenging and uncertain times.
Because Entergy owns and operates infrastructure designated as critical, many of our employees have continued reporting to company sites or the field each day, while others have been able to work remotely. Our employees are our greatest asset and have performed amazingly well during this challenging period, including their work to restore power for homes and businesses following a series of severe storms in April.
In mid-March, Entergy made the decision to move those who were able based on their role to temporarily work remotely. That number is almost half of our workforce. Entergy continues to monitor the situation and recently determined that it is safe and prudent to continue in this current workforce posture and to continue our current COVID-19 mitigation measures until at least Sept. 7.
- While a return to normalcy is important, we are taking a conservative approach given our role and responsibility in managing a key piece of our communities’ critical infrastructure.
- Some of the factors involved in this decision included the potential risk of spikes in COVID-19 as states and communities begin to reopen, limited access to child care and support services for those taking care of others and guidance from the federal government, which encourages working remotely when possible.
- Our decision supports recent guidance from the U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, which issued updated guidelines on May 20 recommending that critical infrastructure companies like ours continue remote work when possible and focus on core business activities.
- We recognize the need for our employees to have some certainty in our next steps and enough lead time to be able to make plans for their households and work lives through the summer.
- There is still a significant risk that as states and local communities begin to open, we could see localized or widespread spikes in new COVID-19 cases. Keeping this in mind, we must remain conservative in our decision-making in order to keep the lights on and the gas flowing.
- We have a dedicated team of professionals who successfully led us into our current response phase and that same team has been planning for our recovery. They will continue to evaluate the situation and make recommendations in the interest of health and safety, operational needs and business continuity considerations.
- We have proven that we can successfully work in this current posture but remain agile and can safely make changes if business and operational needs require it.
What is Entergy doing to ensure the safety of their workers?
It's critically important to keep our operations up and running, serving our customers and communities while we all live through this crisis. That means focusing on the health and safety of all our colleagues. Therefore, we are taking preventive actions to protect our workforce, including:
- Educating employees of the proper good hygiene precautions to prevent the spread of respiratory illnesses.
- We are following official public health recommendations and lowering the density of people at our company locations by making temporary telecommuting work arrangements for those employees who are not required to be at a company facility or in the field to do their work. Just as our communities have made the difficult decisions to close schools and reduce large gatherings of people, we will do the same.
- All employees are encouraged to self-check for symptoms of COVID-19 or the flu, and if detected seek medical attention.
- We have suspended all nonessential domestic and international business travel by commercial airline and other forms of mass transit. We continue to monitor the situation closely and are working with public health officials to implement recommended public health measures as directed.
As an added precaution to protect our workforce, we are implementing our no-touch temperature and general COVID-19 health screening process at certain critical sites where it is appropriate to do so. All team members, including employees, contractors and vendors will be screened as they enter these critical sites.
- Our seven nuclear plants are participating, and we will continue expanding temperature testing at additional critical sites.
- The screenings will be done expeditiously. Those conducting the checks will practice social distancing.
- Screenings are not intended to constitute medical care. They are not a substitute for an assessment by a physician. Anyone with symptoms of COVID-19 should consult a physician.
We are prepared for the continued safe operation of our power plants, and transmission and distribution systems.
- We’ve restricted access to essential workers only. This includes all personnel entering a facility.
- We’ve identified which employees must work on site, which can work from home, which must work in the field, etc.
- We are limiting access to areas where employees are required to work on site, such as control rooms and control centers.
- We are sanitizing and securing access to those areas in a conscious effort to maintain a healthy work environment for those key employees.
- While stressing the importance of good hygiene practices, we’ve increased sanitation efforts across our sites. Examples of measures being taken at various facilities include additional hand washing stations strategically placed, hand washing stations at drinking water bottle stations, and sanitations supplies in restrooms.
- We’ve implemented new procedures around any large gatherings to encourage social distancing. This includes limiting the number of people for meetings, providing additional locations for lunch and break, and either canceling or virtually hosting certain meetings; this is an on-going task to continue looking for ways to achieve effective social distancing.
- There are required self-quarantine procedures for employees traveling to certain areas.
Wearing a face covering provides mitigation for the two primary forms of infection – respiratory droplets in the air and surface contamination.
- It is recommended that everyone wear a face covering when performing any activity outside the home.
- Employees are required to wear face coverings when on Entergy property or while working on behalf of Entergy; however, face coverings can be removed when:
- Working outdoors while maintaining social distancing (greater than 6 feet).
- Working in a room (or other enclosed area) where others are not present.
- When working from home.
- Wearing cloth face masks or other face coverings will only be effective in reducing the risk of spreading the virus when used in combination with washing hands and social distancing. Our workforce continues practicing social distancing and performing frequent hand washing. We continue to focus on the health and safety of our workforce as we continue to provide lifesaving power to our communities.
How does this impact weather-related outages?
Our employees are prepared for every weather situation that comes our way, including tropical weather events. We prepare for the worst but hope for the best using a plan of continuous preparation, training and action that we call Operation: Storm Ready. This year, we have additional activity due to our response to the COVID-19 pandemic. We have prepared for a dual event, and as a result of the damage from Hurricane Laura have used that preparation to guide the work of our field crews:
- For weather-related outages, we will continue managing electric and gas outages as we normally do.
- As we prepare for severe weather, we will ensure we have the people and resources to respond to outages, while maintaining COVID-19 pandemic safety precautions.
- Restoration times may be extended, especially if there are widespread outages, due to new factors such as additional measures we must take due to the COVID-19 pandemic or an inability to secure enough offsite resources.
- Along with our standard storm preparations, we will take additional steps to adjust office settings and crew-staging locations, and to increase the use of drones to help our team members maintain social distancing.
- If conditions worsen, we will execute normal processes to relocate available resources within our system to respond or contact mutual assistance or contract workers for help, as we do during any large-scale event that causes significant outages and requires significant resources for restoration.
- While we live through this crisis, it’s critically important to keep our operations up and running and safely serve our customers and communities, while ensuring the health and safety of our colleagues.
- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and company guidelines will drive our focus on worker health and safety, in compliance with applicable governmental rules.
- As the situation may evolve, we will closely monitor the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting potential impact in the areas we serve. We will remain in close contact with local, state and federal agencies.
- The company is leading the effort to engage with other utilities through the Edison Electric Institute and other regional mutual assistance groups to share best practices during large-scale events requiring mutual assistance support.
If I see an Entergy employee working near my home or business, is it safe to approach them?
With so many customers telecommuting and people depending on grocery stores, hospitals and other vital services, it is more important than ever for Entergy to keep the power and gas flowing to the people who are depending on us to provide reliable, affordable energy. To do this safely, Entergy urges the public to stay away from utility employees and contractors working in the field.
Social distancing of six feet is but one reason to keep a safe distance from crews. Work sites can have any number of hidden dangers for the public, and distracting crews can cause accidents to happen.
Customers looking for individual account information should visit https://www.myentergy.com to check account status or to make a payment. Customers may also call 1-800-ENTERGY.
I’m a gas customer. Will COVID-19 impact how Entergy responds to a service call?
The gas-specific needs for our customers sometimes require entering a customer’s home or business. With that in mind, the gas business has taken extra precautions to ensure the safety of our workers and customers.
- To limit the level of exposure to COVID-19 for both Entergy employees and customers, the gas business will limit the number of instances in which employees will enter a customer’s home or business. This falls in line with the government mandate of social distancing guidelines, which Entergy continues to follow.
- Our service mechanics are considered emergency responders and necessary for the safe operations of the gas system. We have an obligation to the public, our communities and our employees to do our best to keep service mechanics healthy and available to respond to emergencies.
- For the time being, gas employees may inquire as to if a customer has COVID-19, has come in close contact with someone who has COVID-19, or may otherwise be at risk for spreading COVID-19.
- If this is the case, the employee will notify the gas distribution center that he or she is at a COVID-19 or possible COVID-19 location.
- Suspension of service calls is acceptable if those present disclose that they have COVID-19 or may have been exposed, and gas emergencies will be made safe to the public before the service mechanic leaves the residence. The scene will be made safe from the outside, and the work order will be reevaluated after 14 days.
- After the 14-day period, the customer will be contacted to determine if it is safe from a COVID-19 standpoint for Entergy employees to return.
- For gas emergency response calls at homes or businesses identified to be a COVID-19 or possible COVID-19 location, we will make the location safe from the outside by isolating the gas at the meter or nearby gas facility.
- If a serviceman cannot enter the home or business and a pilot light needs to be relit, Entergy will give the customer the option to either relight the pilot light themselves or call a state-certified plumber or other home maintenance professional to do so. This is in line with what Entergy gas already requires of customers who ask to light up new appliances.
- Even during normal operating conditions, Entergy does not take on the responsibility to light new appliances.
- Should a customer opt to use a plumber for the work, Entergy will reimburse the customer for work done if the fault is found to be on our side of the meter. If work is needed on the customer side of the meter, then the customer will be responsible for the cost.
- Other precautions taken by the gas business include hygiene materials being made available for workers such as nitrile gloves, sprays and hand sanitizers. However, if personal protective equipment becomes less readily available, Entergy will take a more conservative approach on deciding when to enter a home or business and use PPE resources.
- If necessary, we have plans in place to suspend all non-emergency work to maintain the health and safety of our employees and communities, and ensure adequate staffing to respond to gas emergencies.
Did Entergy set up a relief fund to help customers in need during this pandemic?
Entergy has committed more than $1 million in charitable contributions to support COVID-19 response efforts across our service territory.
The Entergy Charitable Foundation established the COVID-19 Emergency Relief Fund to help working families experiencing financial hardships as a result of the coronavirus outbreak. Entergy shareholders committed $700,000 to the fund.
The fund helps qualifying low-income households 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 made available to United Way organizations and other nonprofit partners across Entergy’s service area that are providing services to impacted households. Entergy, through our operating companies, will partner with United Way and other community nonprofits to administer the fund.
Funds will not be granted directly to individuals. Grant applications for the fund are by invitation only. Organizations selected to participate will be proactively notified and invited to apply. Unsolicited applications cannot be accepted. However, nonprofits that meet Entergy's charitable giving eligibility criteria can apply for an open grant.
The following Entergy COVID-19 Emergency Relief grants have been awarded:
- Entergy Arkansas donated $100,000 to the Arkansas Community Foundation to help Arkansas nonprofits working to serve the state’s most vulnerable populations and those disproportionately affected by COVID-19 and the economic fallout.
- Entergy Louisiana granted $100,000 to help create the Fueling the Fight fund with the Baton Rouge Area Foundation to cover the cost of food and labor associated with providing meals to frontline hospital workers and nonprofit organizations in need of assistance. The company will match individual donations to the fund up to $50,000. Entergy Louisiana contributed $50,000 and $10,000 in matching donations to United Way of Northeast Louisiana and another $50,000 and $10,000 in matching donations to United Way of Southwest Louisiana to enable them to replicate the program in their areas. Entergy Louisiana also granted $5,000 each to United Way of St. Charles, United Way of St. John and United Way of St. James to support COVID-19 relief efforts in their communities.
- Entergy Mississippi donated more than $385,000 to create the Mississippi Relief Fund for 15 nonprofit groups in the service area to share. The fund targets grants to organizations that provide services to families and individuals that have been hit hard financially by the COVID-19 pandemic and lack resources for basic needs.
- Entergy New Orleans’ $200,000 contribution helped establish the Hospitality Cares Pandemic Response Fund to provide crisis grants to hospitality workers who are unable to afford essential financial needs during the COVID-19 outbreak.
- Entergy Texas donated $300,000 to the Southeast Texas Relief Fund to support nine nonprofit groups across 22 counties. Grants are going to nonprofits that provide services to people who have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and do not have financial resources for basic needs such as food, rent and utilities.
- Entergy’s Palisades Nuclear Plant in Michigan donated $25,000 to the Van Buren Intermediate School District to support students and families throughout Van Buren County. Entergy also granted $12,500 to the United Way of Southwest Michigan to support their relief efforts in Berrien, Cass and Van Buren counties near Palisades.
- Entergy’s Indian Point Energy Center in Buchanan, New York, granted a total of $50,000 to fund COVID-19 relief efforts of area nonprofits: $15,000 to United Way of Westchester and Putnam County to fund 2-1-1 Resource Referrals, $20,000 to Feeding Westchester to provide 9,000 meals, $10,000 to Cortlandt Ambulance Corps to purchase PPE, and $5,000 to Volunteer Service Bureau to support volunteerism.
Company shareholders are also matching employee contributions to the COVID-19 relief efforts of local United Way organizations dollar-for-dollar up to $100,000 to maximize impact. Employees stepped up to help their neighbors in need by donating $153,000 to United Way COVID-19 relief efforts. With the match from shareholders, that brought total contributions to $250,000.
Entergy’s office of the chief executive team has pledged $100,000 to the United Way’s relief efforts.
Additionally, Entergy shareholders recently doubled their match of customer donations to The Power to Care from $500,000 to $1 million. Due to COVID-19, the company made the increase in matching dollars available immediately.
- Entergy’s The Power to Care program provides emergency bill payment assistance to low-income seniors and disabled persons. It is funded through employee, customer and shareholder donations.
- Funds from the program are distributed through nonprofit agencies and no funds are used for administrative or fundraising purposes.
- In 2019, more than 12,000 customers received $2.6 million in bill payment assistance. With the increased match, an additional 2,000 elderly and disabled customers will receive assistance.
Finally, Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program is a critical service that helps low-income residents manage cooling and heating costs. The program is literally a lifesaver, especially for Entergy’s customers – 25% of whom live in poverty.
Congress provided $900 million in supplemental LIHEAP funding through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act. Congress also restored $37 million in LIHEAP funds in the first coronavirus supplemental.
- These funds, along with the regular fiscal year 2020 LIHEAP funding, will help approximately three million low-income households when they need it most.
- Regular 2020 LIHEAP funds are available for bill payment assistance now. The additional LIHEAP funds provided in the CARES Act were released May 8. The four states included in Entergy’s service area received the following allocations:
- Arkansas – $8.2 million.
- Louisiana – $13.9 million.
- Mississippi – $9.2 million.
- Texas – $94 million.
- Now more than ever, LIHEAP assistance is a critical lifeline to those impacted the most by COVID-19. LIHEAP assistance helps ensure our most vulnerable citizens do not have to choose between paying their energy bills and affording other necessities such as food, rent and medicine.
- As the economic impact of the coronavirus spreads, it will disproportionately hit low-wage workers who often live paycheck to paycheck.
- In the two decades since Entergy introduced its low-income customer initiative, we have introduced highly effective and innovative ways to benefit low-income customers. Another way we help power life for low-income customers is by advocating for LIHEAP funding and proactively helping eligible customers get the help they need.
How can I apply for the COVID-19 Emergency Relief Fund?
Grant applications for the fund are by invitation only. Organizations selected to participate in the relief fund will be proactively notified and invited to apply when the grant applications become available.
Unsolicited applications cannot be accepted. However, any nonprofit organization that meets Entergy's charitable giving eligibility criteria is welcome to submit an open grant application for any type of program, including those that may be COVID-19-related. The open grant application can be accessed at entergy.com.
Funds will not be granted directly to individuals.
I’m concerned about my energy usage increasing. How can I conserve energy?
Many customers are telecommuting to do their part to avoid spreading the virus. It is likely that this will result in using more energy at home. Entergy offers these tips for conserving energy during these difficult times:
- When it’s cold outside, set the thermostat to 68 and put on a sweater.
- When it’s hot outside, set the thermostat to 78 and turn on some fans.
- Change the filters on your air returns every 30-90 days.
- Run only full loads of laundry or dishes.
- Switch out incandescent light bulbs for LED bulbs.
- Spend some of your down time at Entergy Circuit, where there are dozens of short video tips for reducing energy usage.
Should I be worried about scams during this time?
Now more than ever, bad actors are leveraging the COVID-19 pandemic to create even more chaos. Unfortunately, the energy sector is a target. Please be aware of phishing campaigns or callers that may be trying to trick you:
- If you see emails, social media posts or website messages about COVID-19 or coronavirus, use a heightened sense of awareness.
- Don't click on links from sources you're not familiar with.
- Make sure your home computer’s antivirus software is working and up to date
- Watch out for messages claiming to be from the CDC or other government agencies.
- Ignore online offers for vaccinations or testing.
- Be cautious about online promotions of money-making opportunities due to the public health emergency.