Today (Thursday, May 21), the New Orleans City Council Utilities Committee announced that it will be directing Entergy New Orleans to provide $22 million in direct bill assistance to residential customers.
The City Council Cares (CCC) program would provide New Orleanians unemployed as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic eligible to receive a total of $400 of direct Entergy bill credits, at a maximum of $100 per month for four months. Additionally, all current late fees would be waived in concert with the application of the bill credits.
“The economic consequences of this pandemic have created an unprecedented crisis for our community. That’s why I believe we must have an unprecedented response to give a lifeline for our most impacted people,” said City Councilwoman-at-large and Utilities Chairwoman Helena Moreno. “The CCC’s $22M in direct bill assistance will cushion the economic damage our community is suffering and comes at no additional cost to ratepayers.”
The City Council has also voiced support for suspending Entergy shut-offs through July 1 or longer.
“These steps are significant, but hardly the end of our efforts to help our community through these difficult times,” said Moreno.
The $22 million in assistance was identified by the Council’s utilities team and comes from federal legal settlements and excess disaster preparedness reserves. Entergy New Orleans maintains two storm reserve accounts, one with over $67 million and another with $15.5 million. Entergy New Orleans officials and the Council agreed that the smaller reserve account was not needed to secure Entergy against further disasters.
Another $6.5 million from a FERC legal settlement reached in 2018 was added to create the $22 million fund for bill assistance for residents impacted by COVID.
Eligible individuals would only need to provide proof of unemployment benefits to receive the assistance, which is expected to provide $100 per month for four months as well as automatically waive any current late fees due on the applicant’s account.
The Council expects the CCC to be available in late June, with the first bill credits delivered in time for the July billing cycle