The World’s Largest Grassroots Solar Event

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an array of solar panels at the Wild Horse Wind and Solar Project
The Wild Horse Wind and Solar Project.
(cc) Matt Thyer

On October 3rd, over 150,000 people are slated to build a new solar landscape for America by participating in the non-profit American Solar Energy Society’s 14th Annual National Solar Tour, the world’s largest grassroots solar event.

The National Solar Tour provides solar-interested citizens an opportunity to view the real-life energy solutions people in their communities are deploying to save money, assert their energy independence and help the environment. Last year, 140,000 people in 49 states participated.

“After decades of development and growing numbers of installations, solar energy solutions have moved into the mainstream,” said ASES Executive Director Brad Collins. “Solar prices are 30% lower than we saw a year ago. State and federal incentives are gaining steam, and a new awareness surrounding how solar cuts energy costs, creates green jobs and improves property values is emerging,” he said.

“From Main Street to rural retreats, the National Solar Tour is changing how everyday folks view their energy choices. The National Solar Tour is a catalyst that’s accelerating the use of solar energy and energy efficient practices across America,” Collins added.

No longer price-prohibitive, solar electric and solar water-heating solutions are reaching middle America at an unprecedented pace. Those attending this year’s tour will discover a surprisingly diverse solar landscape – including solar-powered duplexes, houses, condos, businesses — even solar-powered funeral homes, schools, farms, courthouses and donut shops.

“With thousands of practical examples of how solar works in homes, businesses and public agencies similar to theirs, the National Solar Tour demystifies the allure of solar while inspiring people across the U.S. to harness its power and the many economic benefits it brings,” noted Charles Hanasaki, President of SANYO’s Energy USA Solar Division, a National Solar Tour supporter. SANYO produces the HIT Power solutions which have some of the highest energy conversion efficiency ratings in the world.

“No other event in the nation brings the potent combination of neighbors, installers, business owners and related energy efficiency experts together to discuss the costs and benefits of solar energy across the U.S.,” Hanasaki said.

Solar tour locations dates and times are listed by state at: Those attending these open-house tours learn how to use solar and energy efficiency tactics to save on monthly utility bills, enjoy big tax incentives, improve property values, create a hedge against rising energy costs and help preserve the environment. ASES is providing “Get Started” solar guides to solar-inspired tour goers across the U.S.

Sustainable living expert Ed Begley, Jr., the Hollywood star of Climate Change, says the lessons people take away from the tour are valuable for a variety of reasons.

“Sustainable living is not only good for the planet, it’s good for our wallets,” said Begley, whose recent book, “Ed Begley, Jr.’s Guide to Sustainable Living,” provides a plethora of practical tips on how to live a more efficient, earth-friendly life. “The National Solar Tour offers families an opportunity to have meaningful conversations with friends and neighbors who are reaping the benefits of renewable energy and energy efficiency each and every day. It’s a great way to get an up-close and personal perspective on how easy it can be to live the green life — and how rewarding.”

The National Solar Tour is supported by a powerful collaboration of volunteers, industry experts, environmental groups, community coalitions, partner organizations and corporate and government sponsors, among them the U.S. Department of Energy, Conergy, the Sierra Club, Trina Solar, Apricus, BP Solar, Radiantec, Sanyo, Sun Crystals and Whole Foods Market. The event is coordinated nationally by the non-profit American Solar Energy Society (ASES).

One item on which this unusual complement of businesses, government agencies, educators and environmental groups (groups often at odds on myriad issues) can agree is solar’s place as an energizing force behind America’s desire for energy independence — and a vibrant clean energy economy.

“What ASES and its astounding network of clean energy enthusiasts have done to bring the benefits of solar energy to home and business owners across the U.S. is nothing short of remarkable,” notes Jyl Safier, Director of Marketing for Conergy, a Platinum National Solar Tour supporter who has sponsored the tour for three consecutive years. Conergy provides residential and utility-scale solar energy solutions to help customers cut energy costs, finance solar projects and reap rich cash and tax incentives.

“Solar energy,” Safier continued, “has evolved to the point where it’s not just good for the environment; it’s a cost-cutting, job-creating, business-savvy solution whose time has come.”

Established in 1954, the nonprofit American Solar Energy Society (ASES) is the nation’s leading association of solar professionals and grassroots advocates. Supported by more than 12,000 members, ASES’ mission is to speed the transition to a sustainable energy economy. ASES advances education, research and policy, inspiring the nation to go solar. ASES publishes the award-winning SOLAR TODAY magazine, presents the National Solar Conference, rallies citizens to build a Solar Nation, and leads the National Solar Tour – the world’s largest grassroots solar event.

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