Our Founding

Since 1979, Citizens Energy Corporation has made life’s basic needs more accessible and affordable for millions of Americans.

  • 1979
  • 1990
  • 2000
  • 2010
  • 2020

Oil Assistance to the Poor

Citizens Energy Corporation was launched as oil prices went through the roof in 1979 due to turbulence in the Middle East. Soaring heating costs led to elderly Americans shivering and sometimes freezing to death in their own homes. In our pursuit to lessen the burdens of poverty and aid low-income families in achieving self-sufficiency, the Citizens Oil Heat Program provided discount heating oil to Massachusetts families in need. Through the new millennium, this program grew into a national initiative called JOE-4-OIL that delivered over 36 million gallons of heating oil to needy families in 23 states and the District of Columbia.

Iterations, like the 1980 Home Oil Transfer program by Michael L. Kennedy and the Robert F. Kennedy Foundation, defined Citizens’ model of directing of profits to help the poor at home and abroad.


Energy Efficiency & Weatherization

Citizens Energy was a leader in energy efficiency and weatherization upgrades, launching Citizens Conservation Corporation in 1981 to make the apartments and homes of low-income families more energy efficient. In 1983, Citizens Heat & Power Corporation was created to expand this work to large institutions, like schools, hospitals and municipal buildings. Each project started with an audit and design, then Citizens guaranteed energy savings up to 25%. Across the country, Citizens Heat & Power provided $27 million of energy savings to 170 institutions, including large public housing developments in Massachusetts, New York and Illinois.


Local & International Reinvestments

Citizens adopted a policy of reinvesting 25% of its profits wherever we were doing business around the world. From Jamaica, Costa Rica and Venezuela in this hemisphere to Nigeria and Angola in Africa, the company launched innovative social assistance projects financed by our oil business.

Early international projects included solar hot water systems at public hospitals in Venezuela and Jamaica, and a biomass energy system in Costa Rica that siphoned methane gas off farm waste in a biodigester to power a turbine for electricity.

Citizens' work in Angola began as part of a commercial agreement with Angola's national oil company. Economic development programs followed, including methods to improve fish production, harvesting, drying and salting. Further charitable work was driven by Michael Kennedy's friendship with Angolan Cardinal Dom Alexandre do Nascimento, who sought to establish the Catholic University of Angola, the African nation's first private institution of higher education. Citizens worked with Chevron and StatOil to convert an offshore oil block auction payment into seed money for the university. Citizens was then involved in groundbreaking legislation to direct one penny of every barrel of oil sold by the national oil company to a fund for the university. Citizens established an Angola Education Assistance Fund to make grants to the university, ship books and computers to campus, and educate a new generation of leaders once the campus opened to students in 1999.

Under Michael Kennedy, Citizens 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.

Citizens Resources

In 1983, Citizens Resources was established as the crude oil trading arm of Citizens Energy. The business traded billions of dollars of petroleum commodities, providing further fuel to Citizens' charitable mission.


Citizens Gas Supply

Citizens turned to the natural gas industry in 1984 with an eye towards challenging monopoly control of gas pipelines in order to make gas for heating and cooking more affordable for working families. The company succeeded in becoming the first non-producer to ship gas from the wellhead to city gates around the country, 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 in over 30 states, and using the profits to underwrite the unpaid gas utility bills of millions of customers. Citizens Gas Supply sold as much as $160 million of gas daily.


Citizens Medical Corporation

Rising prescription drug costs led Citizens Energy to venture outside of the energy field in 1986, creating a company to cut costs for consumers through mail delivery medication: Citizens Medical Corporation. In partnership with Medco Containment Services, Citizens contracted with large buying groups to deliver their prescriptions by mail. Empowered by large buyers, like Blue Cross Blue Shield and the American Postal Workers Union, Citizens negotiated lower prices for medications and cut costs by 40% for our customers. Citizens Medical eventually became the largest broker of mail-service prescriptions in the country, with annual sales topping over $90 million.

In 1996, Citizens Medical began using its revenues to fund public health research grants 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.

In 2001, Citizens re-entered the health care industry with Citizens Health, which used the power of a large buying group of uninsured and underinsured card members to negotiate the same discounts from drug companies offered to insured patients.


Citizens Power and Light

Citizens Energy became a pioneer in the electrical power trading industry with the creation of Citizens Power and Light. As a result of a landmark Federal Energy Regulatory Commission ruling, the company became the first non-utility to sell power across state lines. The ruling paved the way for the deregulation of electric power markets. Initially named Citizens Electricity, the company sold surplus power from excess generation capacity in Utah across state lines to municipal utilities in Pasadena and Los Angeles at market rates. Early efforts to enter the electricity industry were met with resistance from incumbent interests but were ultimately secured by the groundbreaking FERC ruling known as the "Citizens Decision." As the nation's first independent power marketer, Citizens Power and Light opened up the industry to competition. Within two years, the business had closed 30 power sale contracts while buying and selling over 3.2 million kilowatt hours of electricity, providing credits to low-income customers served by the participating utilities.


International Microlending

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.

Shelter Heat Program

The Shelter Heat program was founded in 1996 to help homeless shelters manage increased demand for services in the wake of decreased federal support for housing programs. The initiative freed up limited funds to support crucial services, including health care, education and job training for our most vulnerable citizens. Heating grants went out to over 300 homeless shelters in 17 states.

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Citizens Wind

Citizens Wind was founded in 2003 to develop sustainable and socially responsible utility-scale wind projects to generate affordable green energy to meet the needs of local communities. Citizens developed over 223 megawatts of wind power projects in both Canada and the U.S., working on innovative projects with First Nations in both countries. The first Citizens Wind project began operations in 2007.


While Citizens Energy began providing affordable heating oil in Massachusetts with our first oil contract in 1979, the program 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 millions of dollars in heating oil, kerosene and other fuels to households in 23 states and the District of Columbia.


Tribal Heating Assistance

With 28% of all Native Americans living below the poverty line, Citizens Energy began the Tribal Heating Assistance Program in 2007 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 from Maine to Alaska.


Citizens Transmission

Citizens Transmission was founded in 2007 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.

Its first project, completed in 2012, was a partnership with San Diego Gas & Electric to construct the $1.9 billion, 120-mile, 500kV Sunrise PowerLink. That transmission line brings renewable power from the Imperial Valley to the city of San Diego and funds solar projects in the area.

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Citizens Solar

Citizens Solar was launched in 2010 to advance green energy technologies, expand access to renewables and generate sustainable revenues for Citizens’ charitable programs. It has grown into a major developer of utility-scale solar arrays.

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Citizens Storage & Microgrids

Citizens launched our storage and microgrid business to develop projects that increase the energy resiliency of communities and their ability to withstand the effects of climate change while also generating revenues to fund charitable programs.

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JOE-4-SUN, a Community Solar Leader

Citizens Energy is a national leader in Community Shared Solar, extending green-energy benefits to families whose homes can't host rooftop panels. In two states, ground-mounted utility-scale solar projects power far-reaching electricity discounts and make the renewable energy revolution accessible for all.

JOE-4-SUN is the largest low-income community solar program in Massachusetts, providing power from six arrays to households living in the National Grid and Eversource service territories. JOE-4-SUN households in New York State are served by separate arrays in the Empire State.

In California, Citizens Energy owns and operates the largest low-income community solar project in the country. The 30-megawatt array in Imperial Valley provides electricity savings to 12,000 low-income families each year. A 200-acre, 107,000 panel installation serves qualified families living in the Imperial Irrigation District.

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Resiliency & Affordability Program

In 2018, Citizens Energy and Vineyard Wind 1 forged a strategic partnership to extend the benefits of North America’s first large-scale offshore wind project to families in need. The 800-megawatt project in ocean waters 14 miles south of Martha’s Vineyard will supply Massachusetts with a massive infusion of renewable energy and make the Bay State a national leader in the wind industry. Drawing on profits from the project, Citizens will manage $1 million in annual funding for 15 years to finance energy resilience and affordability projects in coastal communities impacted by the wind project. Vineyard Wind 1 made its first contribution to the Resiliency & Affordability fund at the end of 2021, ahead of commercial operations. In addition to enhancing municipal infrastructure through energy resiliency and microgrid projects in coastal communities, funds will be used to provide tribal households and low-income families in Vineyard Wind 1 host communities with a 100% discount on solar energy produced on solar projects in Eastern Massachusetts.