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Controversial Heating Oil Program Now Underway

A  program providing free heating oil to low-income households in 22 states and the District of Columbia is now in its fourth year after getting off to a rough start.

In early January, news articles said the program, operated by Citizens Energy Corp of Massachusetts through the Venezuelan-owned oil company CITGO, was going to be indefinitely suspended. Two days later, CITGO said it would continue supporting the program and operations began January 19.  Because of the recent falling price of crude oil, CITGO said it had evaluated all of its social programs, including the heating initiative.

The program provided assistance to 200,000 households last year, including 220 tribal communities in 13 states. Income-eligible households received up to 100 gallons of heating oil; most tribes received direct grants from CITGO, which also provided heating grants to over 210 homeless shelters in 14 states. 

Those interested in applying for heating oil can call Citizens Energy at 1-877-564-4645 or apply online. Once approved, a household receives an authorization letter and can then call its heating oil dealer to arrange a delivery of up to 100 gallons of oil. Citizens Energy will accept applications until February 27.

Over the years, the program has met opposition because socialist Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has been at odds with the U.S. government.

Source: Newspapers, Citizens, CITGO