By Haley Fisackerly
With a pandemic, racial tension, political divisiveness and natural disasters, 2020 has been one of the more challenging years ever. While it is natural to want to bury those memories and look toward a more hopeful future, if we reflect on these last 12 months, we almost surely will find bright spots.
At Entergy Mississippi, an especially bright spot is the 20th anniversary of the company’s low-income customer initiative. In 2000 Entergy revised its customer service policies, placing greater emphasis on our customers’ fundamental needs. Our focus on poverty is rooted in the economic reality of the communities we serve. They include some of the highest poverty regions in America. We believe we have a moral obligation and a business imperative to help find lasting solutions for our customers in need.Since establishing the initiative, we have introduced several highly effective, innovative ways to help low-income customers. We established the Entergy Charitable Foundation which has contributed tens of millions of dollars to nonprofit organizations dedicated to education and workforce development, poverty solutions and a healthy environment.
We created The Power to Care, which provides emergency bill payment assistance to elderly and disabled Mississippians. Our shareholders, employees and customers fund the program and nonprofit groups like The Salvation Army administer it. It is a true community partnership.
Through our Super Tax Day program, employee volunteers help qualified customers get their taxes filed for free and claim their Earned Income Tax Credit refunds. EITC is one of the nation’s more effective means of lifting people out of poverty. Since 2009, Entergy’s program has helped return more than $280 million to 160,000 residents in Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas. In Mississippi, nearly 33,000 residents have received more than $71.4 million. By putting our customers’ hard-earned money back in their pockets, we help improve their lives and invest in a brighter future for our communities.
As a result of our low-income customer initiative, Entergy has helped power the lives of hundreds of thousands of people, many of them Mississippians. We not only keep their power on, but work to put them on the path to economic self-sufficiency. These programs have helped our customers reduce debt, increase their assets, improve their credit ratings, become homeowners and access opportunities for education and job training.
But, even with twenty years of accomplishments, the fight is not over. We can only become the premier utility we strive to be if our most vulnerable customers have the resources they need during future crises. To this end, we have renewed our commitment to serve low-income customers for the next twenty years.
Our commitment to our most vulnerable customers helps not only them, but all of us. After all, a rising tide lifts all boats.
Haley Fisackerly is President and Chief Executive Officer of Entergy Mississippi.