A couple from New York City are the winners of Green Mountain Power’s "Innovation Home" giveaway contest in Rutland.
Contestants had to write a 500-word essay on why they wanted to live in an energy-efficient house, as well as explain how they’d help build community in Rutland. The prize? A brand-new, 1,500-square foot, fossil-fuel-free home, complete with solar panels, heat pumps and an electric vehicle charger.
Steve Costello, a vice president at Green Mountain Power, said Martin Schreiner and Lucas Hough beat out more than 160 other applicants from all over the country.
“They’re very excited,” said Costello of the winners. “This is the first home they’ve ever had and, living in New York City, they had thought homeownership just wasn’t a possibility for them.”
Costello said that began to change after the couple came to Tinmouth for a wedding about a year ago.
“And during the reception they kind of looked at each other and said, ‘Gosh it would be amazing if we could live up here,’" Costello said. "And that started their journey and then they heard of the contest and applied, and we just closed on the house and handed over the keys this morning."
For years, a dilapidated three-story house had stood at 60 Cleveland Ave. in northwest Rutland. That property was purchased from the City of Rutland for $1 and torn down last February.
The new house was constructed with labor and materials donated by dozens of community partners. Utility customers did not pay for the home.
Costello said Schreiner, a food blogger, marketer and part-time opera singer, and Hough, a pathologist’s assistant, got engaged after learning they’d won, and they plan to move from New York City to their new Rutland home soon.
The couple was chosen by a local selection committee that included Rutland City Mayor David Allaire, members of the board of aldermen, local business leaders and others.
And Costello said committee members were so impressed by the nine finalists who didn't win that they wanted to find a way to encourage those entrants to move to the city as well. He said a charitable fund was created so that any of the finalists who move to Rutland within the next year will be eligible for a $10,000 incentive.