Joe Kennedy visits the Imperial Valley to launch solar home project

Joe Kennedy at press conference in El Centro


EL CENTRO — Citizens Energy Corporation Chairman Joseph P. Kennedy II today launched an innovative project to reduce the electricity bills of low-income residents of the Imperial Valley in California through the installation of rooftop solar collection systems.

During a press conference at the home of El Centro resident Jo Ann Rodrigues Finley, the Citizens Energy founder said the project will help relieve the burden of high energy costs for residents of the valley, where summer temperatures can soar over 115 degrees Fahrenheit.

“Today marks the celebration of our efforts to use the proceeds from our ownership share of the Sunrise Powerlink transmission line in the Imperial Valley to install solar panels on the rooftops of homes of those who have a difficult time struggling with the cost of electricity,” said Kennedy.

“The Sunrise line became operational last summer, but for us, today’s event marks what our company is really all about — using the revenues from successful energy ventures to make life’s basic needs more affordable for people in need. We are so proud to be here today with Jo Ann, SDG&E, IID, and the Imperial County Supervisors, our partners in this project.”

The Citizens Energy Solar F-Tomes Project will reduce a homeowner’s electricity costs by an average of 40 to 50 percent. The systems will be purchased, installed, and maintained at no cost to the homeowner, with all the savings coming right off the family’s electricity bill. More than 100 solar systems will be installed at the homes of income-eligible households annually. To be eligible for the benefit, households must have received a free energy audit and weatherization services to ensure the most efficient use of the electricity.

The total program will generate about one million kilowatts annually, save about 2.3 million pounds of carbon emissions, and cuts costs for needy households by millions of dollars.

Finley, a 75-year-old grandmother whose family has lived in the Imperial Valley since 1943, depends entirely on limited Social Security income to pay all her bills. “The last few summers have been difficult for me due to my being unemployed because I keep the thermostat on my air conditioner set at approximately 83 degrees,” said Finley. “That’s really too warm for me especially with my diabetes. With the help of the solar panels, I feel that I’ll be able to keep the house at a comfortable temperature all summer long.”

“Inherently, renewable energy is about helping people who need energy the most, and in a region where energy is a necessity and not a convenience, this becomes even more important,” said Carl Stills, IID interim deputy energy manager. “We are proud to support the Citizens Solar Homes Project, and look forward to working with them as more of these systems become a reality.”

“Citizens Energy has an excellent record of community engagement and support of energy solutions for low-income communities,” said Jim Avery, SDG&E’s senior vice president for power supply. “We are so pleased with the work they have done and applaud their commitment to supporting the local community. The installation of rooftop solar will pay dividends for years to come in both energy savings for these low-income customers and reduced greenhouse gasses for the greater Imperial Valley region.”

Citizens Energy Corporation has a long history of using revenues from successful ventures to help the communities in which it does business in the U.S. and abroad. Over the last three decades, the Boston-based non-profit has provided hundreds of millions of dollars in energy assistance to heating oil, electricity and natural gas customers in over 30 states.

For more information about the Citizens Energy Solar Homes Project, please visit the Citizens Energy website: You can also call 1-855-GO-SUN-GO (1-855-467-8646) or send an email to

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    • Yes-US companies have major oil refining investments in Venezuela and refine and deliver oil to the US from Venezuela. Delicate politics to sustain diplomatic relations with a country in our hemisphere with oil and major US corporate investments with a leader that has very active anti US sentiments. Chavez will die soon, there will be unrest and political relations will swing back again in the other direction.

        • 2 out of 3 (Hugo and Fidel) will be deader than door nails in 2013. Then the pendulum will swing the other way for a generation or so.

  1. Great info and post Ralph. Citizen’s energy was started back in the late 1970’s getting very very low cost heating oil from Venzuela, facilitated through a Venzuelan friend of the Kennedy family, to provide to low income seniors in the northeast in the winter. It is a non profit organization paying Joe Kennedy, already a trust fund baby, over $500,000 a year in salary and perks. Citizen Energy has justified the continuing relationship with Hugo Chavez, an outspoken adversary of the Unitied States on the grounds that he has allegedly been democratically elected. Small world isn’t it-whodda ever thunk IID and Hugo Chavez would ever have become business partners in symbolically tooting their own incompetent horns pretending to care for the inopportune. Just antoher amatuer photo opportunity.

  2. Whether you are a democrat or republican this is just another perfect example of more sophsticated business and political interests controlling the valley’s interests and future. They bypassed (stole from) us initially with their political influence and the Sunrise Powerlink and then they patronize us riding back into town on a white horse grandstanding with token gifts to our low income customers. All while, like star struck groupies, IID management drools over the ride in Joe Kennedy’s (non-profit) limosine and the celebrity photo opportunity. Pathetic-it seems that void of leadership, vision or a cohesive strategy we are doomed to hand control of our regional self determination and futures over to more sophisticated outside business and political interests who only really care about paying as little as possible for our natural resources.

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