Focus on Our Customer
Thinking about the customer in everything we do is critical to achieving our goals. We work hard every day to provide resources and solutions our customers need in a way that balances operability, affordability, and sustainability.
According to a 2019 study by S&P Global Market Intelligence, Entergy utilities once again had among the lowest average retail rates in the U.S. We believe having competitive rates creates several advantages for Entergy and our stakeholders. Low rates attract economic development to our region, which helps our communities prosper. In addition, having a low-rate position gives Entergy more flexibility to innovate, deploy new technologies, and develop tailored customer solutions.
We strive to maintain our rate advantage through:
- production cost efficiency (including fuel),
- other operation and maintenance efficiencies,
- capital investments that drive productivity improvements,
- energy efficiency,
- industrial growth, and
- customer partnerships.
Low Customer Rates
(2018 average retail price by parent company, ¢ per kWh)
Source: S&P Global Market Intelligence Regulated Retail Price of Electricity published 6/12/19
Energy Efficiency and Demand-Side Management
Energy efficiency and demand-side management programs are effective ways to partner with customers to help them manage usage and costs while providing societal benefits. The objectives of these offerings are to reduce the overall cost of meeting energy resource needs, to provide customers with attractive options to reduce their energy consumption, to educate customers about the value of energy efficiency, and to support low-income and sustainability initiatives. Since 2002, our utilities have invested more than $600 million to deliver nearly 900 megawatts of peak load reduction and 2.7 million megawatt hours of cumulative energy savings.
We help our customers improve their energy efficiency through customer education and outreach, technology improvements, and customer incentive programs. We currently have more than 45 energy efficiency and demand-side management offerings with a stated goal of 990 MW of peak load reduction through 2031.
- For residential customers, energy efficiency offerings include air conditioning and heat pump system tune ups, no-cost energy assessments to identify qualifying EE improvement projects and install cost-effective energy-saving equipment, advanced thermostat rebates, weatherization measures, do-it-yourself videos, online advisors, and online energy audits. We promote these tools through monthly customer e-newsletters with a circulation of approximately 2.4 million. We provide a variety of online resources focused on energy efficiency and bill savings, such as the Circuit webpage, which had more than 425,000 user visits in 2019.
- For our large commercial and industrial customers, we also provide custom program support to identify efficiency opportunities and analyze associated costs and savings for projects such as retro-commissioning, process improvements, and other system-level projects involving unique equipment, as well as energy efficient lighting and smart energy systems.
Advanced meters also provide energy-saving tools, including an enhanced customer engagement portal where customers can access data for increased transparency on their energy usage. The portal also helps customers project and manage their monthly bills, get personalized savings tips, and set alerts.
We recognize that our customers increasingly seek more control of their energy decisions and more renewable energy solutions. As of Dec. 31, 2019, our utilities had approximately 21,000 customers with self-generation equipment, virtually all of which are rooftop solar photovoltaic systems. Over the years, we have made numerous process improvements and added dedicated resources so that customers who choose to self-generate have access to clear and timely information and resources. We also continue to engage and work with our regulators and stakeholders on policy matters as well as possible avenues to expand renewable energy alternatives and meet our customers’ individual energy needs. See the Customer Centricity section of this report for more details.
We facilitate customer-owned distributed generation and provide relevant technical standards, policies, application forms, and related information online, including online tools and interfaces for our customers. We also work directly with customers who have questions on how to safely connect to the grid. Further, we actively engage with customers who are interested in distributed energy resources to understand their underlying objectives and to explore utility-led solutions. Such solutions are being pursued in a manner that provides the desired benefits for the customer while also providing broader system benefits. We will continue to work with our customers, regulators, and other stakeholders on potential opportunities.
Our operating companies now spend more than $90 million annually on demand-side management efforts (both energy efficiency and demand response), which represents more than a 10-fold increase from just 10 years ago. There is now a wide variety of offerings available to customers in each of our jurisdictions; these offerings help lower usage and thus customer bills, as well as provide peak load savings.
Our customers are benefiting from online, self-service tools. Self-serve transactions via web, text message, and interactive voice response now represent nearly 53 percent of our customers’ transactions. In 2019, we met our goal of approximately 950,000 customers opting for paper-free electronic billing, meeting customers’ needs, reducing environmental impact, and creating more than $5.5 million in annual savings versus mailing paper bills. These savings benefit our customers.
We are updating our customer web and mobile app experiences. In 2019 we implemented the first phase of our customer digital initiative, which will improve customer engagement through increased use of digital channels including myAccount online and an interactive voice response unit. These tools enable us to gather more relevant and accurate usage data and real-time feedback from customers. Future phases will develop value-added services to further enhance our customers’ experience.
We offer several billing and payment options in certain jurisdictions to increase choice and convenience for customers, including levelized billing, flex pay, renewable offerings, and community solar. When AMI deployment is complete, we also plan to offer pre-pay options to our customers.
- Levelized billing enables customers to budget and plan for their electricity bills by setting a customer’s bill for 12 months based on their usage during the prior 12 months.
- Flex pay allows customers in arrears to make payments toward their current bills while paying toward an overdue balance, thereby avoiding service disconnection.