Alliance admits some criticism of efforts ‘valid’

Posted March 22, 2011, at 9:41 p.m.

Among the records provided to the Legislature by the Maine Green Energy Alliance is a report by Opportunity Maine staffer Nicole Brown about the canvassing effort she supervised under a contract with the alliance. The purpose of the canvass was to convince homeowners to sign up for energy audits: Canvassers would visit homes, talk to residents about the benefits of energy efficiency and then turn over homeowner names to the alliance for follow-up.

Brown’s report is critical of the alliance’s part of the effort:

“Throughout this short canvassing project, MGEA changed course on locations and start dates five times. This made the task of recruiting canvassers for various regions of the state challenging and time-consuming for the Canvas Director. Each time locations changed Opportunity Maine had to create new job postings to recruit and interview people for new places. Additionally, each time start dates were changed Opportunity Maine had to inform potential staff they could not begin work as scheduled. In Belfast, this led to losing staff. In Yarmouth and Scarborough, it forced Opportunity Maine to tell three people, who were expecting canvasser positions, that the jobs were eliminated due to MGEA’s course change.”

In a four-week period, Brown wrote, “MGEA changed course on the script three times.”

Alliance Executive Director Seth Murray said that Brown’s criticism was “valid.”

“I think that both parties would say that the start of the canvass didn’t go well.”

The script changes, said Murray, were “really part of the refinement process … to figure out what works and what doesn’t.”

— Naomi Schalit, Maine Center for Public Interest Reporting

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