Angela Fowler knows what it’s like to stand in the CAP alley at 5:00 in the morning, waiting in line to sign up for energy assistance.
She is also a member of the CAP Board of Directors, so when Executive Director Ilona Kerby decided to find a better way to handle the annual energy sign up process, Angela was an obvious choice to help chair the work group to look into this.
Each year in November, 800-900 people will show up on Energy Sign Up Day to get an appointment for assistance. The majority of community members who apply are seniors and people with disabilities living on fixed incomes, and the working poor.
Increasingly over the years, people have been camping out the night before, in spite of cold and wet weather. “We are very concerned about people putting themselves at risk,” said Ilona. “We want to see if there is a more consumer-friendly way to conduct the energy sign up process.”
The CAP Board has formed a work group composed of staff, board, and community members to develop a better system that meets three criteria: it must be consumer-friendly, must be fair and equitable, and must be efficient in terms of staff resources.
The work group was launched in March, with an article in The Daily News: http://tdn.com/news/local/cap-seeking-warmer-safer-process-for-winter-energy-assistance-registration/article_5b966166-884d-11e2-93ca-001a4bcf887a.html
“A key part of this process is to seek ideas from the public,” said Angela, “especially from those community members who rely on this assistance to make ends meet.”
The public has been invited to give input and offer ideas in a number of ways:
- Completing a brief survey—available at CAP and also online: http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/VZ6238G
- Calling the CAP Comment Line — 360-425-3430 x 207.
- Attending the Community Forum that was held on March 20.
People—especially consumers—were also invited to submit an application to serve on the work group.
The group is also surveying how other organizations around the state conduct energy sign up (So far they have found that this is a common concern, with no easy or clear solution.)
The work group is to study various systems and present their recommendations to the Board of Directors in June, so that a new process can be in place by this fall.
Angela is confident. “If there is a better way to do this, we will find it.”