Menu

Employees Lobby Congress to Sustain LIHEAP Funding

Published: 03/02/2017

Low-income advocates also ask members to flow additional funds to states not receiving fair share

As they do every year, Entergy employees, industry colleagues and community partners took to Capitol Hill recently to meet with senators and representatives as part of LIHEAP Action Day. But this year, the stakes were even higher as social services programs face uncertainty and LIHEAP funding is at risk.

With this reality as a backdrop, Entergy’s team of low-income advocates urged congressional leaders to sustain the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program and requested that they flow additional funds to states – including the four served by Entergy operating companies – that are not receiving their fair share.

LIHEAP full team

In recent years, LIHEAP funding has fallen by a third from $5.1 billion in 2009 to $3.4 billion today. At the same time, the number of eligible customers who can’t afford to keep their homes warm in the winter and cool in the summer has increased, and weather conditions are more extreme.

Low-income advocates also ask members to flow additional funds to states not receiving fair share.

In addition, a congressional appropriations earmark shifts energy assistance away from residents in 24 mostly southern states, including Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas. As a result, thousands of veterans, elderly or disabled residents and young children don’t receive help, even though they qualify for the program.

“We’re committed to ensuring that the communities we serve receive much-needed LIHEAP assistance,” said Patty Riddlebarger, Entergy’s director of corporate social responsibility. “That’s why we travel to meet congressional members and staff in their Washington, D.C. offices – so we can raise awareness in person of the very real need for improved funding of LIHEAP and advocate for fair distribution of that funding.”

If Congress agrees, LIHEAP could provide as much as $223 million in home-energy assistance to families in Entergy’s four-state service area in 2017. This would mean a total of $28.7 million for Arkansans, $43.6 million for Louisianians, $30 million for Mississippians and $121 million for Texans.

In 2016, LIHEAP provided 205,314 households served by Entergy with $40.7 million in energy assistance.

Joining Entergy and its community partners this year were Arizona Public Service, the Arizona Community Action Association, Atmos Energy, Florida Power and Light, Southern Company, Southwest Gas, the Salt River Project, Tucson Electric Power and TXU Energy.

In addition to meeting with nearly 40 senators and representatives, the team also met with appropriators including Rep. Tom Cole from Oklahoma’s fourth district, who is the senior member of the House Appropriations Committee and serves as chairman of the Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies. Rep. Cole also received the National Energy and Utility Affordability Coalition’s 2017 Extra Mile Award for his support of LIHEAP.

Learn more about Entergy’s efforts to help customers through advocacy and low-income initiatives at entergy.com.

Charlotte J. Cavell