Customers with low income or those experiencing financial hardship may qualify for help through Cleco customer assistance programs and other state and federally funded programs.
Cleco Alternative Rate for Electricity (CARE) Program
Cleco created the CARE program to assist low-income customers by providing a 25 percent discount on the fuel portion of their bills in July, August and September.
To be eligible for the discount, customers must meet the income levels for the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), a federally funded program that helps households with their energy bills. To receive the discount, customers must enroll through their local community action agency between Oct. 1 and May 30 each year. Customers who receive LIHEAP benefits are automatically enrolled in the program and will receive the discount. Customers do have to re-apply each year for the CARE discount.
Power of Sharing Fund
Cleco created the Power of Sharing Fund in 1985 to help elderly customers with low or fixed incomes pay their energy bills. The funds from this program are donated by Cleco, employees and customers and distributed by the Louisiana Association of Councils on Aging (COA) across the state. Currently, 16 COAs receive funds from Cleco's Power of Sharing Fund, including Acadia, Allen, Avoyelles, Beauregard, Calcasieu, DeSoto, Evangeline, Grant, Iberia, Red River, Sabine, St. Landry, St. Martin, St. Mary, St. Tammany and Vernon. To find out if you or a loved one qualifies for assistance, contact one of the participating COAs.
Customers who wish to contribute to the fund can do so by calling Cleco customer service at 1-800-622-6537 or visit one of our customer service offices.
Energy Emergency Deferred Billing Program
Cleco created this program under the guidelines of Legislative Act 629 of 2001, and Louisiana Public Service Commission Order No. R-26038. Under this program, if the Louisiana Public Service Commission (LPSC) declares an energy emergency, eligible customers may defer a portion of their energy bill. The deferral can be paid over a period of up to 12 months, depending on the amount. The amount deferred would be the amount in excess of a customer's previous year's Cleco bill for the period of time specified in the declared emergency.
The example below shows how the program works.
- Current bill: $160
- Amount to be paid by customer: $100 (based on energy bill for same month last year)
- Amount that can be deferred: $60
To be eligible, last year's bill must be at least $20 lower than the bill for the specified period of time deemed an emergency. Generally, you would be responsible for paying the amount paid in the same month last year, or $100 on the regular due date. The $60 would be deferred and paid in installments over a period of time (see below).
Amounts and periods of maximum deferral
- $20 - $75 may be deferred over a period of 1-3 months
- $75.01 - $150 may be deferred over a period of 1-6 months
- $150 and above may be deferred over a period of 1-12 months
- Customers whose income does not exceed 150 percent of the poverty level as established by the federal government
- Customers who receive food stamps or Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)
- Customers whose sole income consists of Social Security payments
- Vital government entities designated by the LPSC as providers of services essential to public health, safety and welfare
- Persons certified by a physician as needing life-sustaining, electrically operated equipment, or life-sustaining medical treatment that requires electricity.
After eligibility is established, customers may receive a deferment on their most recent bill that is not past due. Each month during the declared emergency, eligible customers will receive a deferment unless the customer withdraws form the program.
How do I apply?
Enroll through your local community action agencies. You will need a Cleco bill and proof that establishes you as a member of an eligible group to apply. The community action agency will forward approved applicants to Cleco. Cleco certified critical care customers only need to sign some paperwork to initiate participation in the program. Paperwork for critical care customers can be sent by mail at the customer's request. You must be recertified every two years to remain eligible.
Note: Those currently enrolled in Cleco's Levelized Billing Program will receive no benefit from enrolling in the Energy Emergency Deferred Billing Program as their energy bills are already levelized over a 12-month period.
Credit Extension Agreement
Cleco created this program to provide eligible customers additional time to pay an outstanding balance during non-emergency situations. Cleco reserves the right to deny a credit extension agreement under circumstances in which it feels an agreement would not be in the best interest of the company. To inquire about an extension, call Cleco customer service at 1-800-622-6537 or visit one of our customer service offices.
Budget Billing Program
Cleco created this program to help customers balance their payments. Changes in temperature and other life events can cause energy bills to fluctuate. Budget Billing spreads the billing for energy usage over a 12-month period, so a customer can pay approximately the same amount each month. Knowing what to expect each month also helps with other expenses. The amount paid on Budget Billing is based on a 12-month average of actual energy bills for the previous 12 months.
Each month the average is calculated. This average is always rounded to the next whole dollar amount. An adjustment is made to the average bill amount each month to avoid overpayment or underpayment on your account.
Customers must have a zero account balance and be in good standing participate in Budget Billing. To enroll in this program, call Cleco customer service at 1-800-622-6537 or visit one of our customer service offices.
Critical Care Alert Program
Cleco created the Critical Care Alert Program to identify customers with medical conditions where loss of electricity would impact their health. To enroll in this program, customers must complete a Critical Care Customer Registration Form and get it signed by a physician. Call Cleco customer service at 1-800-622-6537 or visit a customer service office.
State and Federal Assistance
Emergency Rental & Utility Assistance Program
This program is part of the 2021 Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act and includes $25 billion for emergency rental assistance, of which $161 million has been allocated to Louisiana to provide assistance in 57 parishes. The program is being administered by the State of Louisiana, and customers who meet the eligibility requirements can receive assistance paying past-due and current utility bills and some late fees dating back as far as April 1, 2020.
Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP)
LIHEAP is a federally funded program that assists eligible low-income households with their heating and cooling energy costs, including bill payment assistance and/or energy crisis assistance. Each state has different rules on when you can apply, how you apply and the criteria you have to meet in order to get help. In Louisiana, funds are administered by the Louisiana Housing Corporation (LHC) and distributed by community action agencies throughout the state.
Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)
TANF provides states and territories with flexibility in operating programs designed to help low-income families with children achieve economic self-sufficiency. States use TANF to fund monthly cash assistance payments to low-income families with children, as well as a wide range of services.