Seeking Increased Funding for Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program  

Like most people, Teresa Carver and her family live “paycheck to paycheck,” and between working 75 hours a week and studying for her college degree she was certain “could handle whatever came down the pike.”

And she did until a series of events left her behind on her bills. After pawning “everything I could,” Carver said she was within two days of having her power shut off when she sought help from the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP).

“I needed someone to step in that one time to get caught up and get my bearings back,” Carver said during a press conference on Capitol Hill held as part of the National Fuel Fund Network’s Washington Action Day for LIHEAP.

With Carver at the press conference were Entergy Texas, Inc., employees Henry Gernhauser, customer relations manager, and Mary Young and Paula Odom, customer relations specialist. Also in attendance was Karen Swenson, a low-income advocate from Nacogdoches.

Carver, a Van Buren, Ark., resident said, “It shows you the importance even a small amount of help like the $181.36 I received from LIHEAP can make in the lives of working families.

Entergy employees and advocates from the four states served by Entergy utilities were on Capitol Hill to ask their congressional delegations to support an increase in LIHEAP funding. Congress has different measures before it that would improve funding and more fairly distribute funding. One of the amendments under consideration is slated to come up for a vote by the Senate as soon as Wednesday, February 6, 2008.

“We are urging people to call their senators today at 202-224-3121 and ask them to vote for the Reed-Collins amendment to the economic stimulus legislation,” said Linda Barnes, Entergy’s manager of low income initiatives. 

“LIHEAP is the most efficient program the federal government runs, but it only reaches a fraction of those it is meant to help. Estimates are little more than 15 percent of households eligible for LIHEAP actually receive help, and the real value of the grants is decreasing.

Studies have shown that extreme heat causes more deaths annually than any other weather-related phenomena.

LIHEAP is considered one of the most efficient government programs, but it has traditionally been under funded. Nationally, it reaches less than two out of every 10 homes eligible to receive LIHEAP.

It can be surgery or something as simple as a major car repair that leaves families struggling and in need of help, Barnes said.

Entergy Texas, Inc. provides electricity to 395,000 customers in 26 counties. It is a subsidiary of Entergy Corporation. Entergy Corporation 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 $11 billion and approximately 14,500 employees.