Citizens Energy is no longer accepting applications for the Natural Gas Assistance Program.
With the nation facing alarming increases in natural gas prices in the early 1980s, Citizens Energy Corporation began exploring opportunities to enter into the natural gas market. Citizens Energy believed that the same business model used in its Oil Heat Program – the use of for-profit opportunities to drive down the price of heating oil – could be applied to the natural gas industry.
Partial de-regulation of the gas industry in the early 1980’s offered Citizens Energy with a window of opportunity into a previously exclusive market. In an effort to topple long-standing monopolies over access to the distribution system, Citizens Energy mounted a landmark federal regulatory challenge, attempting to reduce the price of natural gas by allowing more competitors to enter into the market, which would benefit consumers and the national economy.
After Columbia Pipeline, one of the nation’s largest pipeline owners, was charged with practices that resulted in over-billing of end-users, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) threatened to revoke Columbia’s license. The head of Columbia proposed opening its pipeline to Citizens Energy as part of its settlement. FERC approved the proposal and Citizens Energy entered the natural gas industry full force through its subsidiary, Citizens Gas Supply Corporation.
Citizens Gas Supply soon became involved in the construction of new gathering facilities, designed to bring free-market gas into the interstate pipeline. By the end of 1986, Citizens had access to a total combined throughput of 18 million cubic feet of natural gas per day. Within one year of its founding, Citizens Gas Supply was one of the nation’s largest independent movers of natural gas, buying and selling an average of 270 million cubic feet of natural gas per day, while distributing more than $160 million worth of gas per day throughout 17 states.
Ultimately, Citizens Gas Supply managed to enter into agreements with 38 pipeline operators throughout the United States, making it possible for the company to purchase and transport natural gas from and to nearly every domestic geographic market. In addition to its trading activities, Citizens Gas Supply made significant investments in gathering systems, strategic pipeline interconnects, storage facilities, firm transportation, and downstream facilities.
Many of these activities were pursued through joint ventures with established industry leaders, including National Fuel Gas Company and the Victoria Gas Company. In 1993, Citizens Gas Supply Corporation was sold to Western Gas Resources in Denver, Colorado, along with other natural gas-related assets of the company.
Since entering the natural gas market in the 1980's, Citizens Energy operated a Natural Gas Assistance Program to provide fuel to low-income families in Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Kentucky. This program expanded to serve Massachusetts in 2007 when Citizens Energy began a partnership with Distrigas. Operating for over 30 years, the Natural Gas Assistance Program provided more than $20 million in assistance to over 150,000 families.