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    Citizens Energy, Venezuelan-owned CITGO, Mayor’s Office Team Up For Low-Cost Heating Oil Program in Connecticut

    (3/8/2006) Mayor John DeStefano, Jr. announced today the availability of discount heating oil for 24,000 low-income Connecticut households, along with an allotment for the state’s homeless shelters.

    The heating oil program, a partnership between the non-profit Citizens Energy Corporation of Boston and Venezuelan-owned CITGO Petroleum Corporation, will provide a once-a-season delivery of up to 200 gallons of heating oil at 40% off retail price to families qualifying for federal fuel assistance.

    Connecticut becomes the eighth and final state this winter to benefit under the initiative launched last November by CITGO, which is a wholly owned subsidiary of Petroleo de Venezuela, the national oil company of the Latin American nation. The Connecticut program was launched as a result of Mayor DeStefano’s work with CITGO and Citizens Energy to bring the initiative to Connecticut families struggling to shoulder the rising costs of heating oil this winter.

    “I am delighted that the program is underway,” DeStefano said. “This is an effective safety net for people who are still struggling to heat their homes.”

    “Even though we’ve had the warmer weather, most of our clients have exhausted their awards, so the program comes at a most opportune time,” said John E. Richardson, Jr., chief executive officer of Community Action Agency of New Haven, one of the beneficiaries.

    Eligible households will receive letters directly from the Community Action Agency in their area. More information is available by calling a toll free number, 1-877-291-1-OIL. Citizens Energy is working with the Connecticut Association for Community Action, which represents the network of 12 anti-poverty agencies in the Nutmeg State, to send authorization letters to eligible households and answer questions about the program.

    Families who qualify for the federal Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program will receive the letters and call their fuel dealer to arrange the delivery. Approximately 4,000 eligible families in Greater New Haven and 24,000 across the State are eligible to receive a one-time delivery of up to 200 gallons at a 40% discount. For an eligible homeowner, the program allows them to pay approximately $1.47 for the oil, a 98- cent discount, or a total of $294.00 instead of $490.00, a savings of $196.

    In addition, CITGO will donate 54,000 gallons of heating oil to serve the March and April heating needs of homeless shelters in Connecticut that use heating oil. Shelters interested in this program should call Citizens directly at (617) 338-6300.

    The City of New Haven, in conjunction with Citizens Energy Corporation, secured 4.8 million gallons of oil through the Venezuela-CITGO Heating Oil Program for recipients of the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) and the Contingency Heating Assistance Program (CHAP) in Connecticut. The program has an impressive track record so far:

    42 million

    • 42 million total gallons of home heating oil distributed

    • Eight states participating: Connecticut, Delaware, Massachusetts, Maine, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Vermont.

    • Estimated dollars saved by consumers: $33.6 million

    “The fight against poverty and social exclusion is fundamental for Venezuela. In order to win, we need to use our resources, in our case petroleum, to lift up all the Venezuelans who have been traditionally left behind. It is in this same spirit that we have worked to promote integration and cooperation among nations,” said Venezuelan Ambassador Bernardo Alvarez. “Our U.S. heating-oil program reflects this commitment to international cooperation. President Hugo Chavez realizes that the poor of Venezuela face the same reality as the poor around the world. We are pleased that we could

    help the low-income community of the United States; we are sure that we will

    continue working with these communities in the future.”

    CITGO’s CEO Felix Rodriguez cited the program as, in part, a humanitarian response to tragic weather events in the United States. “After Hurricanes Katrina and Rita left this country paying record fuel prices, oil companies were asked to help Americans in need,” Rodriguez said. “We were happy to respond by offering people in eight states help this winter. We are proud that our ability to supply 40 million gallons of heating oil has kept families from having to choose between food, shelter, medicine or staying warm."

    "We're proud to work with CITGO and our Connecticut partners to help needy families make it through the tough winter months. At a time that federal fuel assistance benefits are shrinking, CITGO has stepped forward to strengthen the heating safety net for our most vulnerable families," said former Congressman Kennedy.

    Citizens Energy and Kennedy have arranged for discounted Venezuelan oil to be distributed through CITGO throughout the northeastern United States this winter after the initial program was arranged by Congressman Bill Delahunt of Boston, Mass. Connecticut joins Delaware, Maine, Southeast Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont and the Bronx neighborhood in New York City in providing the program.

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