Energizing Sustainability in Mid-Maine

 

By Stephen Collins '74
 

GreenColbyMaine’s third-biggest Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant this winter was awarded to Waterville and Winslow thanks to efforts of Steve Erario ’10. The senior environmental studies major provided most of the data and cowrote the application for $170,000 to fund community energy conservation and an alternative energy feasibility study.

The work should stimulate a dozen jobs, and, at the current price of heating oil, residents will save an estimated $115,000 per year in fuel costs after work is completed, Erario said.

Erario envisions 300 to 400 subsidized home-energy audits. Perhaps 100 homes will get improvements through low-cost materials and volunteer labor, and another 100 could get financing from partnering lenders. Solar-heated domestic water will be an option for homes with good exposure. Bulk purchasing will hold down costs for materials and installation, he said.

“He did all the number crunching, and he was the person who made sure all the t’s were crossed and i’s were dotted so the application met the precise criteria of the state,” said grant coauthor John Joseph Jr., a professor at Thomas College (and son of John Joseph of Colby Spa fame).

A Udall Scholar in 2008, Erario worked with the city since his first year at Colby and spent summers working on sustainability and managing student interns. He helped establish Sustain Mid-Maine, an organization focused on energy, transportation, reuse and recycling, environmental education, and local foods. “He embodies what civic engagement is all about,” said his thesis adviser, Assistant Professor of Environmental Studies Philip Nyhus.
 
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