This beautiful cabin in the Catskill Mountains of New York offsets its energy usage with clean energy from a nearby solar farm — and it’s available to rent!
A hidden gem of the Catskill Mountains, this family-owned cabin is perfectly located for hiking, swimming, and skiing. The Dudley family purchased the cabin from the previous owner, a man who single-handedly built it using logs felled in the area. Surrounded by the rugged mountain landscapes, Hemlock, Maple, and Oak trees, Ellen knew that this was a place for her family to call home.
This eco-friendly escape into nature, dubbed Catskill & Co by owners Ellen and Matt Dudley, is connected to solar energy from a local solar farm.
Being tucked away in the shady, tree-filled forest, switching to solar was always out of the question for the Dudleys. How is it that they could access clean energy without putting panels on their cabin’s roof or cutting down the beautiful trees that surround it?
Connecting Catskill + Co. to Community Solar
As one of the 80% of American households who are unable to put solar panels on their roof, The Dudleys were thrilled to not have to chop down any of their trees to access solar power.
Community solar allows homeowners, renters, businesses, and condo-owners to subscribe to clean energy from a solar farm in their area. While keeping their utility and paying no installation costs, residents can connect to affordable solar energy and save money on their energy bills — a process Ellen described as “seamless.”
Since March 2021, Catskill + Co. has been supporting a share of renewable energy with community solar, giving the Dudleys approximately 10% savings on their monthly energy bills. Since they didn’t need to change anything about their home or switch their electric company, the Dudleys were able to enroll in just a few minutes online.
“We have always wanted to switch to renewable energy, but as we love being tucked in the forest, solar panels were not an option,” Ellen noted. “I was so excited when Solstice found us with the offer of community solar!”
Living their Values through Solar and Stewardship
Connecting to solar is not the only way the Dudleys live their sustainable values. At the cabin, which they started renting out during the recession of 2008, they provide guests with eco-friendly products and strive to be plastic-free.
Ellen attributes her environmentally-conscious outlook to her upbringing,
“I was raised among the magnificent trees and majestic mountains of the Pacific Northwest. I’ve traveled the globe, and lived in wonderful cities and met good people in every country. But, it’s the natural beauty of this planet that has most deeply informed my philosophies.”
She draws inspiration from the Native American belief that land is not to be treated as a resource, but regarded as a relative. Within this mindset, Ellen believes that stewardship of land, whether it be owned or visited, is a vital responsibility.
As a steward of her cabin’s land in the Great Northern Catskills, Ellen spearheads efforts to preserve and protect the trees and wildlife on the 20-acre property — and environmental stewardship runs in the family! Ellen’s daughter, Soren Dudley, founded The Trouble, a magazine that examines climate change through the lens of politics and policy.
Now, thanks to community solar, the Dudleys are doing their part for the environment and living their values. What’s more, they get to share their prized cabin and the surrounding beauty of the Catskills with travelers from all over the world.
“We stress the responsibility we feel for the environment to our guests, who are the stewards during their stay,” Ellen expressed. “Sharing the cabin we love, which began out of necessity, has proved to be a great pleasure.”
“Visitors love to ski, hike, visit the swimming holes, and go apple picking,” Ellen said. “Couples enjoy the growing local food culture, musicians travel for music festivals, and city-dwellers journey to enjoy nature.”
While most of their guests are New York City residents looking for a quiet respite, families travel from as far away as California, Canada, England, and Denmark.
The Dudleys look forward to sharing their piece of the natural world and the “rejeuvenating power of nature” with others for many years to come.
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