“I wanted to provide an update on recent developments concerning the heating oil program funded by CITGO Petroleum and administered by Citizens Energy Corporation. Citizens Energy has recently been informed by CITGO that due to falling oil prices and the world economic crisis, CITGO has been forced to re-evaluate all their social programs, including the heating oil program, which has provided hundreds of thousands of low-income U.S. households with much-needed fuel these past three years.
“As a result, the heating oil program has been suspended until further notice. It remains unclear how long this postponement, if it is one, will last.
“All of us at Citizens Energy continue to do everything we can to advocate for a continuation of this vital assistance. In the past two weeks, I have personally traveled to Houston to meet with CITGO‘S CEO and have been in constant contact with Members of Congress who have been supportive of this program, CITGO executives, and Venezuelan diplomatic officials in Washington.
“Furthermore, I have reached out repeatedly to government officials in Venezuela at the highest levels, including former Venezuelan Ambassador Bernardo Alvarez, Oil Minister ¬Ramirez and President Hugo Chavez. While I have yet to receive any indication of their ultimate decision, continue to fight and advocate for a continuation of this critical assistance for our most vulnerable citizens. However, this decision remains in the hands of CITGO Petroleum and its parent company, Petroleos de Venezuela, S.A. We strongly encourage interested people to write to Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez to tell him the stories you have told me of the difference the generous donation of heating oil has made to so many of our fellow Americans.
“While awaiting further word from CITGO, Citizens Energy will continue to run the heating assistance programs we have operated for many years. These include natural gas assistance in Massachusetts, Ohio, Kentucky and Pennsylvania; heating assistance for emergency homeless shelters in Massachusetts and Rhode Island; and heating oil assistance for Massachusetts residents funded by Citizens Energy as well as corporate and individual donors."
For Massachusetts households interested in natural gas assistance through the Citizens Energy/Distrigas Heating Assistance Program, please call: I-866-427-9918. For Massachusetts households who have exhausted their federal fuel assistance benefit, please contact your local fuel assistance agency to request additional healing oil assistance from Citizens Energy. You can obtain the number of your local agency by calling the state heating assistance hotline at 1-8OO-632-8175.