CAMDEN, N.J., Dec. 13, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- CITGO President and CEO Alejandro Granado and Citizens Energy Chairman Joseph P. Kennedy II today launched the seventh consecutive year of the CITGO-Venezuela Heating Oil Program.
The program will help more than 400,000 people this year in 25 states, including members of over 60 Native American tribes, families living in tenant-owned cooperatives, residents of over 250 homeless shelters, and thousands of single-family households.
"Over the years, the program has become the most important energy assistance program by an oil company. For CITGO, it aligns with the humanitarian and solidarity principles endorsed by the government of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela through its national oil company, Petroleos de Venezuela, S.A. (PDVSA) that we echo in everything we do," said CITGO President and CEO Alejandro Granado, who was joined by Camden Mayor Dana Redd at the launch event.
"CITGO is very proud to mark the seventh anniversary of our Heating Oil Program. Increasing energy costs continue to affect the quality of life for millions of people and impact community organizations that provide critical social services. As an energy company, we believe it is our obligation to use the strength of our resources to help alleviate the burden for those struggling to pay for home heating costs," added Granado.
The 7th edition of the program was launched with a delivery of fuel to the Camden, N.J., row-house of a grandmother living on a limited income. Arlene Grier, who raised three children in her home on Merrimac Road, thanked Granado and Kennedy after they made a delivery of free heating oil to her home. "I want to thank CITGO and Citizens so much," said Grier. "This helps a lot. Prices are going up but not my income, so I'm always having to decide between paying for food, heat, electricity, gas, or my mortgage. I wish other oil companies were as generous."
Since 2005, CITGO has invested more than $400 million in energy assistance to those in need ('05-'11). Last year alone, more than $60 million in heating oil was donated to low-income families and individuals. With higher costs for heating oil and reduced government funding for energy assistance programs, the need this year is greater than ever.
"We don't want families to have to choose between heating their homes or buying basic necessities such as food or medicine. No one should be forced to make those types of decisions," said Mr. Granado. "We are grateful that through our CITGO-Venezuela Heating Oil Program, we can make families' lives a little warmer."
CITGO partners with Citizens Energy Corporation, a nonprofit created in 1979 by former U.S. Rep. Joseph P. Kennedy II, to implement the program. Citizens Energy, which has used successful ventures in the energy and health care industries to finance charitable programs in the U.S. and abroad, has provided energy assistance to families in need for over 30 years.
"Senior citizens and low-income families are facing a terrible hardship this winter," said Kennedy. "Heating oil prices are close to record levels, while federal fuel assistance has been more than cut in half. Households that got over $1,000 in assistance two years ago will be getting less than half that this season – barely enough for half a tank of oil."
Kennedy said he approached major U.S. oil companies and oil-producing nations asking them to assist the poor in bearing the burden of rising energy costs. "They all said no," said Kennedy, "except for CITGO and the people of Venezuela."
"As the nation continues to recover from the global economic recession, I am delighted to see that CITGO and Citizens Energy Corporation will once again provide many eligible working families and seniors with free heating oil this winter," said Camden Mayor Dana L. Redd. "Thanks to the generosity of CITGO and Citizens Energy, eligible participants will not need to make a decision between paying for heating oil or food for their families. I highly encourage eligible families to apply as soon as possible to this wonderful program."
Families struggling to pay for home heating oil can call Citizens Energy at 1-877-JOE-4-OIL (1-877-563-4645) to see if they are eligible for heating oil assistance. If approved, the household will receive an authorization letter and details on how to arrange for a one-time delivery of 100 free gallons of oil.
CITGO, based in Houston, is a refiner, transporter and marketer of transportation fuels, lubricants, petrochemicals and other industrial products. The company is owned by PDV America, Inc., an indirect wholly owned subsidiary of Petroleos de Venezuela, S.A., the national oil company of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela. For more information visit www.citgo.com
Beginning in 1979 with oil-trading ventures in Latin America and Africa, Citizens Energy has used revenues from commercial enterprises to channel millions of dollars into charitable programs in the U.S. and abroad. Whether heating the homes of the elderly and the poor, lowering the cost of prescription drugs for millions of Americans, or starting solar heating projects in Jamaica and Venezuela, Citizens creates social ventures as innovative as the businesses that finance them. For more information, visit www.citizensenergy.com.