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ReVision Energy works to increase renewable energy in Central Maine

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UNITY - ReVision Energy, an industry leader in solar design, installation and service in Northern New England, is working on, or has recently completed, three solar installations in the Unity area. ReVision recently completed work on a Unity residential project, is working on a project with Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association's (MOFGA) "Red Barn" in Unity, and a hot water system at Unity College's new dormitory, Terrahaus.

In addition to promoting renewable energy and encouraging the transition away from fossil fuels, the projects are especially relevant for the ReVision Energy team at their Liberty, ME office as six of the eleven employees are graduates of Unity College.

"This technology is something we are all passionate about," said John Luft, general manager of ReVision Energy's Liberty location. "Being a graduate of Unity College, it takes on a special significance to be working in this industry because Unity places such an emphasis on becoming more and more environmentally friendly. Plus, working 'close to home' is special in its own kind of way."

Unity College's Terrahaus project will be the first American college residence with many environmentally-friendly features that will allow it to meet the Passive House standard. Among those features will be solar hot water. The technology installed by ReVision Energy will use a closed loop system that will generate and transfer heat to water, complete with an electric resistance coil at the top of the storage tanks that will serve as a back-up that kicks in automatically if the water drops below a certain temperature.

"We are pretty excited to give back to our alma mater," said Jennifer Albee, office manager at the Liberty ReVision Energy location. "Using solar power to heat water is a great way to have a positive-impact on the environment, and save money at the same time."

"It's amazing to think that a college in Central Maine is the first one to take this giant step toward reducing our carbon footprint through student housing," said Luft. "It gives us all an extra sense of pride being able to demonstrate our craft and passion on this project."

TerraHaus is the first of three residence halls that will make up the SonnenHaus village at Unity College, which will provide housing for 30 residents. The TerraHaus is expected to be fully completed in time for this year's fall semester.

A few miles up the road, ReVision is also working to install 10 kW of solar electric at MOFGA's Red Barn. The barn itself is located in Thorndike, although MOFGA's Common Ground Education Center in Unity won a $41,098 grant from Efficiency Maine to install the 44 230-watt photovoltaic solar panels on the barn. The electric energy will compliment an existing wind turbine that is already generating power for MOFGA. The Red Barn will be used to house expanding programs, including workshop space for educational events and storage.

"For MOFGA to demonstrate the importance of using renewable energy in this fashion is invaluable," said Luft. "The barn will be used for educational events, and it will present an opportunity to teach people about solar energy with working solar panels at the site. It's a great hands-on learning experience."

Also in Unity, ReVision has recently completed a residential project at the home of Cheryl Frederick, who is a member of the faculty at Unity College. The project was funded by Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) funds. PACE funding is a part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and is allocated in state through Efficiency Maine. Maine residents can borrow up to $15,000 at a fixed rate of 4.99 percent for five to 15 years to be used for energy efficiency upgrades including solar energy.

"One of the reasons I came to work at Unity College is because I share the school's philosophy that we should think, act and live sustainably," said Frederick. "ReVision installed a solar array for us that will cover most or all of our electricity usage, which is a big step toward lowering our carbon footprint. The PACE program is fantastic because it offers an important opportunity to affordably make your home more energy efficient. We can't recommend it highly enough, and being able to work with Unity alum was an added bonus. They make me even more proud of the school."

"These projects just go to show you how much of a difference a small town like Unity, ME can make when they start thinking seriously about renewable energy upgrades," said Luft. "These efforts will make a noticeable reduction in carbon footprints and in energy costs for all three parties. With programs like PACE, the opportunities to invest in renewable energy are becoming easier more widespread - it's a great thing to see."

Last modified on Wednesday, 14 December 2011 15:26

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