NEW ORLEANS, La. (WVUE) - As the coronavirus pandemic continues the New Orleans City Council wants to provide more help to Entergy New Orleans electric and gas customers.
Connie Alexander walked toward the Entergy bill payment center on Canal Street. She is fortunate to be able to pay her monthly utility bill but said she knows a lot of people cannot afford to do so.
"You know, it’s tragic and it’s hard for, almost all the jobs are closing during this pandemic,” Alexander said.
So, the city council will do more to assist Entergy customers who are in that predicament because of the health crisis said Councilwoman Helena Moreno.
"The economic consequences of this pandemic have created an unprecedented crisis for our community,” Moreno said.
She announced that she and her colleagues will direct Entergy New Orleans to provide millions in direct bill assistance to residential customers who are unemployed due to the COVID-19 pandemic or suffered lost wages because of the health crisis.
"The City Council Cares Program which we can call triple-C or CCC would provide eligible New Orleanians the ability to receive a total of $400 of direct Entergy bill credits at a maximum of a hundred dollars per month for four months. Participants in CCC will also see their late fees completely waived,” Moreno said.
She expects the CCC Program to go live in late June with the first bill credits happening in time for the July billing cycle.
"With an average electricity bill of $110 we believe the CCC could end up paying 90 percent of the bills for those affected customers,” Moreno said.
And she said other Entergy customers will not end up footing the bill for the assistance.
“This will come at no additional cost to our ratepayers,” said Moreno. “The $22 million in the CCC was identified by the council’s utility team and it’s coming from federal legal settlements and excess disaster preparedness reserves. Entergy New Orleans maintains two storm reserve accounts.”
The council’s program is expected to help at least 50,000 Entergy customers. They will need to provide proof of their unemployment.
The council is also extending the shutoff moratorium for the utility’s customers until July.
"Until now the company has been voluntarily committing to not move forward with shut-offs, but some advocacy groups have requested reassurance with an official city council order,” Moreno said.