Citizens Energy Corporation was launched in 1979 as oil prices went through the roof because of turbulence in the Mideast. Soaring heating costs led to elderly Americans shivering and sometimes freezing to death in their own homes. Joe Kennedy and his fledgling team raced to create the world's first non-profit oil company to help the poor shoulder the burden of rising heating oil prices. Citizens Energy struck a crude oil deal with Venezuela, signed contracts to ship the oil to a refinery in Puerto Rico, and sold the refined products on the open market, with the exception of the heating oil, which was shipped to Boston Harbor. From there, Citizens Energy provided the heating oil at a 40% discount to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, allowing the state to expand the number of low-income households served by the thousands. Through the remainder of the decade, Citizens Energy, under the leadership of Joe Kennedy and then his brother Michael, built on this theme of innovative business leadership and charitable purpose to create successful ventures in the electricity trading, natural gas, and pharmaceutical drugs industries – all while using 100% of the profits to help the poor at home and abroad.
In our pursuit to lessen the burdens of poverty and aid low-income families in achieving self-sufficiency, the Citizens Oil Program provided discount heating oil to Massachusetts families in need. The program, later expanded into a national initiative in the new millennium, delivered over 36 million gallons of heating oil, saving needy families about $10 million.
HOME OIL TRANSFER
Initiated by Michael L. Kennedy and administered by the Robert F. Kennedy Foundation, the Home Oil Transfer Program picked up and sold excess heating oil from households converting to other heating fuels. Profits from the sale of over one million gallons in unused heating oil in the U.S. and Canada were channeled to support charitable programs and youth citizenship projects.
CITIZENS CONSERVATION CORP
Citizens Conservation Corporation was founded to increase the energy efficiency of apartments and homes to benefit low-income families. The program installed energy upgrades for thousands of households, which used a portion of the resulting savings to pay for the improvements.
BOSTON NEIGHBORHOODS ENERGY COALITION
A 76-member coalition of Boston’s community and energy organizations, the group was organized by Citizens Energy to ensure the success of the federal fuel assistance program in the Hub’s urban neighborhoods. The coalition provided information, translation services and legal advice to foster a more effective emergency fuel assistance communications network.
Citizens committed to devoting 25% of our profits to sustainable energy projects in the countries in which we did business to give back to the impacted communities and improve cooperation among nations.
Citizens sponsored a solar and heat reclamation installation to provide 50,000 liters of hot water each day to a maternity hospital in Caracas, representing about 90% of the hospital’s hot water needs. Citizens also provided technical grants to improve farming practices.
Citizens built a major solar hot-water heating system at the Cornwall Regional Hospital in Montego Bay. The Caribbean’s largest solar installation at the time, the project replaced a costly generator that used 12,000 gallons of diesel fuel each year.
COSTA RICA REINVESTMENT
Citizens Energy built a biomass energy system, siphoning off methane gas from farm waste in a biodigester to power a turbine and provide electricity for local use.
CITIZENS HEAT & POWER CORP
Citizens Heat & Power Corporation was established to increase energy efficiency in major institutional energy users like schools, universities, hospitals, and municipal buildings. Expanding Citizens Energy’s impact beyond residential energy conservation, the company provided $27 million in energy savings to over 170 institutions across the country, including large public housing developments in Massachusetts, New York, and Illinois.
Citizens Resources was created to operate as the trading arm of Citizens Energy. The company’s global purchases of crude oil, natural gas, and petroleum products exceeded $3 billion. Its activities included trading crude oil, supplying it to refiners for processing and establishing its own markets for the sale of petroleum products.
CITIZENS GAS SUPPLY CORP
A spike in natural gas prices in the early 1980s led Citizens Energy to launch a new venture to use profits from gas trading to help low-income households with their gas heating and cooking bills. Starting with an innovative deal with Brooklyn Gas, Citizens bought and sold billions of cubic feet of gas, selling the fuel at the Weighted Average Cost at dozens of city gates in over 30 states, and used the profits to underwrite the unpaid gas utility bills of millions of customers. Citizens Gas Supply sold as much as $160 million of gas every day.
NATURAL GAS PROGRAM
Following the rapid increase in natural gas prices in 1981 to 1983, Citizens used profits from gas-trading to provide last-resort energy grants to needy families across the country. Working with the Salvation Army, the program provided over $30 million in assistance to hundreds of thousands of low-income households in 30 states.
CITIZENS MEDICAL CORP
The burden of rising prescription drug costs led Citizens Energy to venture outside of the energy field for the first time to create a company to cut costs for consumers through mail delivery of medications. Citizens Medical Corporation, working in partnership with Medco Containment Services, contracted with large buying groups like members of Blue Cross Blue Shield and the American Postal Workers Union to get their prescriptions by mail. Citizens used the leverage of these groups to negotiate lower prices for medications, cutting overall costs by 40% for our customers. This business model helped spur the creation of the multi-billion dollar Pharmacy Benefit Management industry. Citizens Medical eventually became the largest broker of mail-service prescriptions in the country, with annual sales topping over $90 million.
Citizens Farm was established as an experimental agricultural project to increase the productivity and quality of life on farms. The 124-acre parcel produced poultry, fish, and various field crops raised through educational programs to benefit the local community.
CITIZENS POWER & LIGHT
Citizens Energy’s efforts to enter the electricity industry were met with resistance from incumbent interests, but the company pushed through a landmark Federal Energy Regulatory Commission ruling, known as the “Citizens Decision,” clearing the way for Citizens to become the first non-utility to wheel electricity across state lines. As the nation’s first independent power marketer, Citizens Power & Light opened up the industry to competition and paved the way for deregulation. Over the course of 10 years, the company bought and sold billions of dollars worth of electricity, saving money in energy costs for households and businesses across the country while also using profits to write down the unpaid electricity bills for thousands of low-income families.
During Citizens Energy’s second decade, the company aggressively expanded into international energy markets, dramatically increasing our footprint in exploration and production deals in Africa, particularly in Angola. At the same time, under the leadership of Michael Kennedy, who succeeded as Citizens Energy’s president after Joe Kennedy left to serve in Congress, the company launched medical relief missions to the Congo and Angola and committed significant resources to providing winter heating assistance to hundreds of homeless shelters each year.
As part of a commercial agreement with Angola’s national oil company, Citizens began a series of economic development programs, including an effort to develop more efficient and effective methods of fish production, harvesting, drying, and salting
The expansion of Citizens Energy's commercial and charitable work in Angola led to Michael Kennedy' friendship with Angolan Cardinal Dom Alexandre do Nascimento, who requested help in establishing the Catholic University of Angola, the country’s first private institution of higher education. Citizens Energy, working with Chevron and StatOil, funnelled a $1 million auction payment for the development of an offshore oil block to serve as seed money for the creation of the university. Citizens was subsequently involved in the passage of groundbreaking legislation directing one penny of every barrel of oil sold by the national oil company to a fund for the university, providing a steady and reliable stream of revenue to this day. Citizens also established the Angola Education Assistance Fund to provide grants to the university, ship books and computers to the campus, and educate a new generation of leaders. The university opened its doors to its first class of students in 1999.
Citizens Energy partnered with micro-credit institutions to extend small loans, financial training, networking, and peer-support opportunities to extremely low-income populations in South Africa, Colombia, and Ecuador. Through this innovative and market-based model Citizens contributed $230,000 in financing for small business loans that helped break the cycle of poverty for hundreds of families.
PUBLIC HEALTH INITIATIVE
Keeping with the tradition of linking community programs to the commercial ventures that fund them, Citizens Energy founded this initiative using revenues from Citizens Medical to provide public grants to fund research and organizations that benefit uninsured populations. The Public Health Initiative financed $423,000 in projects ranging from homeless shelter medical clinics to outreach for at-risk youth.
The Shelter Heat Program was founded to help homeless shelters manage increased demand for services in the wake of decreased federal support for housing programs. The Shelter Assistance Program frees up limited funds to support crucial services, including health care, education, and job training for our most vulnerable citizens by providing heating assistance grants to over 200 homeless shelters in Massachusetts and Rhode Island.
Citizens International was established in 1999 to meet the social and economic needs of developing countries. Citizens International worked with host governments, multinational corporations, and multilateral aid agencies to improve health care, education, agriculture, job training, small business growth, and infrastructure development in struggling countries. Among its initiatives, Citizens International provided $2.2 million in grants to improve healthcare in rural Nigeria.
THE NEW MILLENNIUM
In 1999, Joseph P. Kennedy II returned from Congress to take the helm of Citizens Energy following the tragic death of his brother Michael. Joe revitalized the heating oil program, christened JOE-4-OIL, and launched an innovative health initiative to help uninsured Americans receive the same discounts offered to those with coverage. Citizens Energy also made a significant move into renewables with the creation of Citizens Transmission and Citizens Wind.
Citizens Health was launched to provide uninsured senior citizens and working families with the same level of pharmaceutical discounts available to those with insurance. Citizens Health grew to offer a wide array of affordable healthcare services. After a decade in business, Citizens Health helped shape the expansion of national healthcare policies, leading to the creation of the Medicare Part D prescription drug benefit for elderly Americans.
Citizens Wind was founded to develop sustainable and socially responsible utility-scale wind projects to generate affordable green energy to meet the needs of local communities. Citizens developed projects in both Canada and the U.S., working on innovative projects with First Nations in both countries.
While Citizens Energy began providing affordable heating oil in Massachusetts with our first oil contract in 1979, the program then expanded to the national level and became known as JOE-4-OIL. Citizens Energy received donated oil from CITGO in 2005 and over the course of the next 10 years, JOE-4-OIL provided $500 million in heat savings to 650,000 families across 25 states.
The Buildings Program drew on CITGO funding to deliver much-needed energy savings to homeless shelters and families living in tenant-owned cooperatives. Over its lifetime, the program provided 22 million gallons of heating oil to 230,000 low-income apartments and provided $11.5 million in savings to homeless shelters.
With 28% of all Native Americans living below the poverty line, Citizens Energy began the Tribal Heating Assistance Program to make winter heat more affordable for some of the poorest populations in the country. In partnership with CITGO, the program provided $20 million in heating assistance to over 30,000 households across 272 tribal communities.
Citizens Transmission was founded to increase grid reliability, alleviate transmission bottlenecks, unlock access to renewable energy, and improve energy affordability in the communities impacted by the transmission lines. Citizens has completed several large projects in California and developed partnerships with utilities in the Northeast to offer innovative transmission solutions.
THE GREEN REVOLUTION
In the last decade, Citizens Energy dramatically expanded its reach into renewables, becoming one of the largest developers of ground mounted, utility-scale solar arrays in the country while also developing high-voltage transmission lines to carry green energy from remote desert locations to major urban load centers. Citizens Energy is the national leader in community solar programs for the poor with major projects on both coasts and is building the energy structure of the future with our cutting-edge energy storage and microgrid developments.
As part of our commitment to the Imperial Valley community in California, Citizens Energy started the Solar Homes Program to prevent low-income households from having to make the difficult trade-offs that come with the costs of air-conditioning in a region where summer temperatures can top 110 degrees Fahrenheit. The program utilized profits from Citizens Energy’s investment in the Sunrise PowerLink transmission line to provide free, 20-year leases on rooftop solar panels to make energy costs more affordable to families in need.
CITIZENS IMPERIAL SOLAR
Built, owned, and operated by Citizens Energy, Citizens Imperial Solar is the largest low-income community solar project in the country. In partnership with a local utility, the 30-megawatt array provides 12,000 low-income families in Imperial Valley, California with discount green energy.