Protocol for County Offices Responding to Energy-Related Inquiries
What is University of Maine Cooperative Extension’s outreach role with the citizens of Maine with Energy education?
- Serve as major outreach entity of the University of Maine and University of Maine system, which is currently involved in assisting Maine citizens with immediate consumer energy needs through our outreach education and how-to resources.
- Create and update an Energy website. Many Maine residents have trouble meeting their needs for heating, transportation, and food due to rising costs. University of Maine Cooperative Extension established the Energy website to provide research-based information on saving money through energy conservation and alternative energy sources.
- Provide basic “How To”” videos on projects that people can do in their own homes and businesses to help conserve energy.
- Serve as the primary source of distribution for the Maine State Housing Authority “”Keep ME Warm” kits. Also provide training on the kits to local agencies and groups that will help distribute and possibly install the contents of the kits.
- Work as a collaborating partner with the State of Maine Government to help minimize duplication and enhance efforts related to energy work for the people of Maine. This includes accessing state resources, networking as appropriate, and keeping our staff constantly updated.
- Integrating information about energy conservation into our existing programs. Continue to engage in research projects and programs that address energy conservation and alternative energy possibilities.
Protocol for County Offices to Respond to Energy Related Inquiries
Note: It is important for all offices to acknowledge that we are doing work in the area of energy education conservation when talking to clients that contact the office.
All staff should spend some time reviewing the resources at our public Energy website, and review the “Energy Resources” web page for staff on Plugged In.
Protocol when clients contact your office:
1. Ask how they came to call your office about energy.
2. Listen to the question they are asking and determine next steps:
A. If you know that the answer to their question is on the public Energy website, then refer the client to the website:
a) Ask if they have access to the internet and are interested in going to our Energy website, then refer them to extension.umaine.edu/energy, or they can google “University of Maine Cooperative Extension Energy Site.”
b) If they are unable access the internet, print appropriate fact sheets for your client and mail to them.
c) If their question is about the Keep ME Warm Kits, then please refer to the Keep ME Warm Kit FAQ sheet on the “Energy Resources” web page for staff on Plugged In.
3. If you are unsure about how to answer their question, then review the “Energy Resources” web page for staff on Plugged In. This site includes resources, fact sheets, and Frequently Asked Questions (Word) to assist you in answering your client’s question.
4. If you still cannot locate the answer to their question, please collect their contact information (Name, Address, Phone, E-mail) and let them know that you or another Extension staff person will get back to them.
Steps to follow when you get questions you do not know the answer to
1. Consult with your County Energy Coordinator to see if they have learned of new resources that could possibly answer the question.
2. Contact Kathy Hopkins and Donna Coffin as our “Consumer Energy” leaders to see if they can help. Please do not contact Kathy or Donna unless you cannot locate the answer with the resources available through your office (which includes office staff) and on the web.
3. Once you learn that we are able to assist the client, then contact the client to share the information they need. If it is the case that we do not know the answer, then please inform the client of that, but also suggest they seek out other resources in their community that may be able to assist them (examples could include State Government agencies, Town Office, etc.)
As a final step, staff should maintain a database listing all of the people who have contacted the office; please include the client’s name, address, phone, e-mail address, and nature of call. Periodically, we will be asking for records of clients who contacted UMaine Extension about energy with an evaluation. We plan to evaluate if we (as an organization) are making a difference in people’s lives on this specific topic/initiative.