By Douglas Hook Standing in the cold on a 24-acre plot where a solar installation has been built, former Congressman Joseph P. Kennedy II announced that the solar panels will provide clean energy to 500 low-income households at a lower rate than their traditional utility provider. “You can’t believe how much juice these things make and we can now break the back of our dependence on foreign oil and not by going in and doing all this fracking stuff that has been so detrimental to so many people,” said Kennedy. “What we’re doing is breaking our dependence and creating the independence that America was always about.” Joe-4-Sun is an initiative through the Citizens Energy Corporation that is making renewable energy more accessible to those in need by offering discounts on electricity produced by solar arrays. The Joe-4-Sun program will benefit families across the state upwards of $10 million. One subscriber was there for the announcement, Springfield resident Essie Thomas-Ware. “My social security check don’t go very far,” she said, adding that she looks for all opportunities to save. Thomas-Ware took to the stage and thanked Kennedy for the support the panels will offer her. “I just want to say thank you, Joe, and I thank God for Mr. Joe Kennedy,” said Thomas-Ware. “There’s a lot of programs that I’m not even qualified to get but I am so glad that I’m getting help with this one.” Citizens Energy plans to expand the work they’re doing in Massachusetts and already have sites across the US. “We’ve got five projects like that here in Massachusetts, one in New York, and a big one out in California,” said Peter F. Smith, chief executive officer for Citizens Energy. “So it’s a really big new initiative for us with the low-income community solar energy.” Citizens Energy Chairman Kennedy was joined by Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno’s Chief of Staff Thomas M. Ashe, New England Farmworkers’ Council Chairman Heriberto Flores, Business Development Director Michael Kennedy, and JOE-4-SUN subscriber Essie Thomas-Ware. Citizens Energy Corporation was founded in 1979 by Kennedy to make energy more affordable.