BOSTON -- Citizens Energy Corporation and Distrigas today announced the launch of a winter heating assistance program for natural gas customers in Massachusetts.
The Citizens Energy/Distrigas Heat Assistance Program (CEDHAP) was created for people who are either ineligible to receive federal fuel assistance, but are struggling to pay their natural gas heating bills, or for those who have exhausted their fuel assistance allotments and need further help.
Citizens Energy is administering the program, and Distrigas is funding it by dedicating proceeds from every liquid natural gas shipment to its import terminal in Everett, Massachusetts, for a total of approximately $1 million a year.
Demand for clean-burning natural gas from power generators and residential consumers in New England and U.S. as a whole has been steadily rising. At the same time, however, both U.S. and Canadian natural gas production has been declining. Today, the resulting tight supply and demand balance for natural gas has been exacerbated by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in the Gulf of Mexico. All three factors have led to projections of sharp price increases this heating season.
“Many households are bracing for each heating bill this winter,” said Joe Kennedy, chairman and president of Citizens Energy. “Fuel assistance like CEDHAP can make a real difference, particularly to those who they need to choose between heat for their homes and other necessities such as food or prescription drugs because they can’t afford both.”
“Energy is a fundamental need, and high energy costs are creating a major strain for many Massachusetts residents,” said Rick Grant, co-founder of CEDHAP and currently Distrigas’ president and as of January 1, 2006, CEO of SUEZ Global LNG in London. “This program could be important to more people than ever in the coming months, helping to ensure that the heat stays on when temperatures plummet.”
“The Everett Terminal has been an important part of Massachusetts’ energy landscape for 35 years,” added Clay Harris, president and CEO of SUEZ LNG NA, parent of Distrigas. “This program is one way to demonstrate our commitment not only to providing natural gas to the region but more directly to residential consumers who need some relief.”
Households who believe they may qualify for assistance through CEDHAP are encouraged to call 1-866-GAS-9918.
Callers to this hotline can receive a $150 credit on their gas utility bills by undergoing a simple two-step process:
1. Leave name and address on the hotline, and an application form will be mailed to the household within 24 hours.
2. Applicants fill out the form and return it to Citizens Energy along with a copy of their gas utility bill. The program will then credit the household’s gas account.
Citizens Energy Corporation exists to help make life’s basic needs more accessible and affordable. Beginning in 1979 with oil-trading ventures in Latin America and Africa, Citizens has used revenues from commercial enterprises to channel millions of dollars into programs in the U.S. and abroad. Whether heating the homes of the elderly and poor in Massachusetts, lowering the cost of healthcare for millions of Americans, or staffing solar heating projects in Jamaica and Venezuela, Citizens creates social ventures as innovative as the businesses that finance them. At the same time, Citizens Energy is constantly on the lookout to use market opportunities to help the poor and needy. At Citizens Energy, we believe no one should be left out in the cold.
Thirty five years ago, the management of Distrigas of Massachusetts saw a future in liquefied natural gas (LNG). As the United States’ longest-operating LNG importer, the company has been a driving force in the adoption this safe, clean-burning fuel in New England and other parts of the United States. The company’s import terminal in Everett has been a mainstay in the region’s energy market by serving almost every gas utility in the region and key power producers, including a neighboring 1,550 MW power plant able to generate enough electricity for approximately 1.5 million homes in Greater Boston. In addition, the company imports LNG to fill a network of more than 40 local, customer-owned LNG storage tanks around the region. Together with LNG from the Everett terminal, this LNG is capable of meeting about 35-40% of the region’s gas demand on very cold winter days.