The 2010 National Solar Tour, organized by the American Solar Energy Society, is Saturday, Oct. 2.
The appetite for solar in America's southeast is growing. Mississippi Solar's Will and Carolyn Hegman are serving up some mouth-watering, cost-effective ideas to feed that hunger during their second Annual "Down on the Farm" solar tour.
The tour highlights four distinctly different solar applications. First there's a simple ground-mount system with battery back-up, next is a 2.4 kW solar carport ready for Tennessee-made electric vehicles rolling off assembly lines next year. The Choctaw Central High School racing team, winners of the recent Hunt-Winston Solar Car Challenge (a race from Texas Motor Speedway to Boulder, Colorado), will be showing off their solar-powered race car. But the solar solution that's really stirring up excitement is the 8.4 kW solar electric (PV) solution powering a chicken house at Spencer Pope Farms.
"Poultry farming is an energy-intensive business," said Mississippi Solar co-founder Will Hegman. "Enormous tunnel fans are required to ventilate chicken houses. Lighting adds to the cost. There are close to 8,000 poultry farms in the State of Mississippi. If we were able to solarize all those businesses, we could offset around ten percent of the entire state's energy needs," he said.
More importantly, says wife Carolyn, solar can help poultry farmers reap federal tax credits of up to 30% while saving money on their electric bills. That's no chicken feed.
"Solar can really change the life of a poultry farmer, who has astronomical electric bills, particularly in these hot Mississippi summers," Carolyn explained. "This technology has the potential to benefit everyone," she noted, "Solar can cut costs for home owners, farmers, boat houses, horse barns and now chicken houses.
"Here in Mississippi we're in the business of educating. That's what this tour is about," said Carolyn. "There are so many myths we're battling, like there's not enough sunshine to make solar viable or that solar is just a fad. Truth is, all production figures for our solar installations have exceeded forecast projections thus far."
Carolyn Hegman says the couple's getting into the business of solar has changed their lives in ways they couldn't have imagined. "The people who've come to view our solar solutions have been great," she declared. "One said he thought he'd have to drive all the way to California to see a solar array like the one on the chicken house at Spencer Polk Farms," Carolyn recalls him saying. "'If I were younger, I'd be doing it myself,' he told me. 'I'm telling all my grandkids that this is the way you gotta go.'"
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