News Release > Consumer Advocates, Entergy Employees Seek Funds to Bolster Program Helping Jobless, Poor (Cont.)
Consumer Advocates, Entergy Employees Seek Funds to Bolster Program Helping Jobless, Poor (Cont.)
Consumer Advocates, Entergy Employees Seek Funds to Bolster Program Helping Jobless, Poor Pay Energy Costs
Group Part of National Drive to Add Funding for LIHEAP
NEW ORLEANS – As record summer heat waves deliver higher energy bills to homes nationwide, customer advocates are heading to Congress Wednesday to urge continued strong funding for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program.
Entergy Corporation employees, advocates and LIHEAP recipients are taking part in the National Fuel Funds Network's Washington Action Day for LIHEAP to increase awareness of the program's importance and need for strong funding. LIHEAP is the primary tool to help working-poor families, especially those with preschoolers, elderly or disabled individuals who are struggling to pay for their heating and cooling costs. Voluntary initiatives run by Entergy, other utilities and charities don't have the resources to meet the growing need.
A press conference will be held at 11:30 a.m. (Eastern) Wednesday on Capitol Hill with key legislative leaders and LIHEAP recipients to discuss the need for strong funding and the release of remaining contingency funds.
It is the first LIHEAP Action Day held in the summer, a move meant to help draw attention to the needs of at-risk Americans in warm-weather states. Nationwide, only about 10 percent of LIHEAP funds are devoted to summer cooling programs. Federal statistics show temperatures are running above normal throughout much of the nation so far in 2010.
"Extreme summertime heat is America's number one weather-related killer. High temperatures killed more people between 1994 and 2003 than tornadoes, hurricanes, floods and lightning combined," said Patty Riddlebarger, director of corporate social responsibility at Entergy.
"When you add that physical danger to the economic problems facing millions who've lost jobs over the last two years, the need to strengthen LIHEAP is greater than ever. It is one of the most efficient and effective programs the government has to help people in crisis," Riddlebarger said.
"We are urging Congress to budget at least $5.1 billion for LIHEAP during federal fiscal year 2011 and reauthorize the program through 2014," Riddlebarger said. Funding for LIHEAP has been at $5.1 billion since the recession hit with full force in the fall of 2008.
Although the number of households helped by LIHEAP increased in 2009, the federal program still reaches only one out of every five eligible households across the nation. In Mississippi, 17 percent of eligible households receive help from LIHEAP, 19 percent in Louisiana, 24 percent in Arkansas and just 10 percent in Texas.
"Local administrators are reporting there's a growing need. At current funding levels, LIHEAP can only serve about 20 percent of those who need help, so there is significant unmet need out there," Riddlebarger said. "Releasing LIHEAP contingency funds now would mean help for thousands more families."
Other Action Day sponsors include the Edison Electric Institute and the American Gas Association.
Entergy Corporation (NYSE: ETR) 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, and it is the second-largest nuclear generator in the United States. Entergy delivers electricity to 2.7 million utility customers in Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas. Entergy has annual revenues of more than $10 billion and more than 15,000 employees. For more information about Entergy, visit entergy.com.