Entergy May Start Disconnecting New Orleanians’ Power as Early as February


If you have had trouble paying your electricity bill and have been depending on Entergy to help you out, your time may be up. According to Entergy’s Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) section on what they’ve been doing to help people out during the COVID outbreak, time is almost up for their billing assistance. “Beginning in December, Entergy Texas, Entergy New Orleans, Entergy Louisiana and Entergy Mississippi plan to resume normal business operations.” They add, “Entergy Louisiana will resume disconnecting service in February for residential customers with past-due amounts who have not made payment arrangements.”

Since March of last year, Entergy placed a moratorium on shutting off people’s power if they couldn’t pay their bills; however, it’s almost February, and without any other indications, this assistance will be ending.

Entergy also says, “We know this is an extraordinary time. That’s why we have developed new payment options to help customers defer overdue balances for up to 12 months. We want to provide solutions to those who are experiencing financial difficulty and give them every opportunity to make arrangements. Disconnecting service is the option of last resort. We urge all customers to contact us to easily enroll in a payment arrangement plan that meets their needs.”

While this is bad news for a lot of people, Entergy is not leaving everyone entirely in the lurch. There are some options. One of their less helpful options is their Payment Extension program, which allows people a few extra days to pay their bills. Another, more promising, arrangement is Deferred Payment extension, wherein if you qualify you may have up to a year to pay your “…current bill and/or unpaid balances.”

There are also various programs for impoverished people, including Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) which is aimed at people with very low incomes and high energy usage, a good program for those with older homes.

Not all of this is going to solve your billing or connection problem. The moratorium is ending, and it’s best to be prepared for whatever comes.

Energy poverty is not a new issue, as poor people tend to live in less energy-efficient housing. The pandemic has increased energy usage nationwide as more and more people are out of work and at home. Many hope that the Biden administration will provide a national moratorium on disconnections as we have seen with evictions.

While some current programs exist such as the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, and the Weatherization Assistance Program, the pandemic energy needs have not been sufficiently met. Even prior to the pandemic, one-third of Americans were unable to meet their energy needs, according to government studies. Energy poverty and insufficiency have also been cited as a reason for increased homelessness numbers.

According to Representative Rashida Tlaib, utility issues are a human rights issue and their shutoffs affect the same community suffering most from COVID, “We know that water and other utility shutoffs disproportionately hurt our neighbors of color, and that it’s no coincidence these disparately impacted groups are also facing the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Big Easy Magazine has reached out to Entergy’s New Orleans public relations division for comment, and will update the article if we hear back from them.

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