Solar Empowers Young People to Return to Maine and Live the Good Life
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On a late winter morning on the outskirts of Brunswick, Maine, a set of cross country tracks crosses a wide open field and ends in front of the cozy home of Eliza Donoghue and Marco Aliberti. The home is a great blend of Maine’s past, present, and future – reasonably sized and practical, it fits into Maine’s landscape and wouldn’t stand out, except that its rooftop is covered in solar panels. For the outside observer, it’s just a regular house. But for Eliza and Marco, it’s a dream realized.
A Maine native, Eliza grew up enjoying every bit of Maine’s woods and waters, but college called her away – first to Montana, where she earned a degree in Creative Writing and Wilderness Studies from the University of Montana, and then to Vermont, where she studied land conservation law and earned her Juris Doctor. Young, bright, and passionate, Eliza could have taken many tracks in life, and as she looked across the country for jobs, her eye kept landing back on Maine.
“Marco and I wanted to get back to Maine eventually, but it was an opportunity at the Natural Resources Council of Maine that made it possible,” Eliza says. “Though I imagine everyone has a soft spot for their home state, Maine truly compliments our lifestyle. We love to be outdoors—skiing, biking, and hiking—and we also like a being within striking distance of Portland and downtown Brunswick.”
One dream – getting back to Maine, was accomplished. But Eliza and Marco also had a dream of living in a sustainable home and being able to live out their values. Initially they thought that dream would be unattainable. That is, until they had the opportunity to speak to ReVision Energy and Hallmark Home of Maine and learn how the combination of superior insulation values, high-tech electric equipment, and cost-effective solar panels makes it affordable to achieve a 100% solar household.
Economical and Environmentally Responsible
“I knew that solar was the environmentally responsible option, but I wasn’t sure it was affordable,” Eliza says. “But when ReVision Energy came out to visit me at my home, they did a great job breaking down the monthly expenses of a solar loan in an easy-to-understand format. I learned that it was financially feasible to go solar and to live in the house of our dreams, powered by the sun!”
Eliza and Marco had Hallmark Homes design a 28’x28′ two-story building for land they were able to build on in Brunswick, Maine. By involving ReVision Energy early in the process, we were able to design a heat pump heating and cooling system that will provide year-round indoor comfort.
The new building sits facing perfect solar-south and has 21 solar panels which will produce around 7,000 kilowatt-hours of clean electricity each year, saving Eliza and Marco money, reducing carbon pollution into the atmosphere, and reducing the cost that all Mainers pay to maintain an outdated electric grid.
A Solar Powered Lifestyle
While finances needed to work in order to make it happen, what Eliza likes best is how much the system complements what she loves about living and working in Maine. As Forests and Wildlife Policy Advocate and Outreach Coordinator for the Natural Resources Council of Maine, Eliza is dedicating her professional career towards protecting the natural splendor of Maine for future generations and her solar powered home is a perfect complement to this work.
Eliza is also part of NRCM Rising, a group created by the Natural Resources Council of Maine to engage and connect people in their 20s, 30s, and into their 40s who love Maine’s air, land, water, and wildlife.
Also, future generations is very real for Marco and Eliza, who are expecting their first child in June. “I’m really excited by the thought that she is going to grow up thinking of solar as normal,” Eliza says. “It wasn’t until recently that I thought solar was an attainable and realistic option for tackling the climate crisis at a large scale. I’m proud that we were able to make this big, positive step in the right direction and set an example for my daughter and my community.”