By Kimberly Blair
Deborah Samuel Green of Fort Walton Beach giggled as she played with a new directional, low-flow faucet head for her kitchen sink. She also smiled and raved about a new showerhead.
But what thrilled her the most was that she didn’t need to buy diapers anymore to soak up the water leaking from her decades-old natural gas water heater.
“Oh my, yes, I’m so thankful,” Green enthused shifting from smiles to tears.
Green thanks Gulf Power employee Carl Jackson, a Residential Energy consultant, for bringing these simple joys into her troubled life. Jackson went above and beyond to help Green out because of her extremely dire situation.
Green requested and scheduled an energy audit for her home. However, she canceled and rescheduled the assessment multiple times.
Jackson’s persistence in encouraging her to keep the appointment had an incredibly positive impact. He discovered she was living in a dangerous situation and took action to correct it, at no cost to Green.
Jackson knew if he could save her any money on her energy bill through an energy audit, it would be helpful.
“When I went to do the audit, she didn’t want me to go into the home because it wasn’t in a presentable state,” Jackson said. “I told her, I’m not looking at your home to judge you. I’m here to see where we can assist you in saving money on your energy bill.”
While Jackson is transitioning from existing home energy audits to new home construction, Adam Clause, also a Residential Energy consultant, is transitioning to take over the Fort Walton Beach area’s existing home audits. They worked together to convince Green to allow them do the audit.
“When I asked to see the water heater, we found it in a cramped closet. It was a gas unit and had improper ventilation,” Jackson said. “It was leaking and dangerous. Water was on the floor and she was using baby diapers to try and absorb the water. It was a very bad situation.”
Through Gulf Power’s gas-to-electric conversion program, Green qualified for a free electric water heater. Through a business relationship with Mark Bush of Bush & Sons Heating and AC of Fort Walton Beach, Jackson was able to get help installing the water heater with the services donated.
Bush said when he heard about Green’s situation, he didn’t hesitate.
“I have a soft place in my heart for elderly people and people who are in bad situations,” he said. “I had help in my life. So I help where I can.”
Jackson and Bush have reputations for going above and beyond when it comes to helping out in their community, according to Jackson’s supervisor, Regina Carter, Residential Sales team leader.
“Carl’s willingness, his helpfulness towards each customer, both internal and external, is equivalent to his dedication to thoroughly performing each work task,” she said. “Carl puts his heart into every aspect of his job responsibilities.”
Developing good working relationships with contractors like Bush has been beneficial for customers on both ends, Carter said.
When Gulf Power has a special situation with a customer in need, contractors often rush in to help out, oftentimes pro bono, she said. Carter said Gulf Power will also rush to help a contractor with something like a load calculation for a customer in dire need of a new AC/Heating unit.
“We work hand in hand,” Carter said. “It’s not just about gas-to-electric conversion; it’s absolutely about helping out in the community.”
Or to simply make one customer’s fractured life a little brighter.
Through Gulf Power’s Community Energy Saver program — available to eligible, low income customers — Green also qualified to receive a year’s worth of AC filters and compact fluorescent light bulbs and low-flow shower head and faucet heads, all of which will help reduce her energy bill.