Solar-Powered Poultry Farm, Race Car and Carport for Tennessee-Made Electric Vehicles Featured In Mississippi’s Leg of the American Solar Energy Society’s National Solar Tour, World’s Largest Grassroots Solar Event

(Carthage, MS – September 24, 2010)– Mississippi is helping build momentum to make the 2010 American Solar Energy Society (ASES) National Solar Tour the most successful grassroots solar event in history. The more than 650 tours featured in this year’s tour is nearly triple the number of tours featured in 2009, and more communities continue to join the movement each week.

The National Solar Tour provides citizens the opportunity to tour solar-powered homes and businesses from Alaska to Florida. Last year, 150,000 people across 49 U.S. states, Washington, D.C. and Puerto Rico participated.

“The appetite for solar in America’s southeast is growing, and Mississippi Solar’s Will and Carolyn Hegman are serving up some mouth-watering, cost-effective ideas to feed that hunger during their “Down on the Farm Solar Tour,’” said ASES National Solar Tour Manager Richard Burns.  The tour is part of the non-profit American Solar Energy Society’s National Solar Tour, the world’s largest grassroots solar event.

The “Down on the Farm Solar Tour” takes place October 2, 2010 from 9 am to 4 pm at 211 Popes Road, Carthage, Mississippi, 39051. Guided tours, which run every two hours beginning at 9 am, will highlight three distinctly different grid-tie installations. The first is a 2.4 kW solar carport ready for Tennessee-made electric vehicles rolling off assembly lines next year. Also featured is a ground-mount system with battery back-up.

The Mississippi tour site that’s really stirring up some excitement is the 8.4 kW, electricity-generating solar PV solution on 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 and Mississippi Solar co-owner Carolyn, solar can help poultry farmers reap federal tax credits of up to 30% while saving money on their electric bills.

“Solar can really change the life of a poultry farmer, who has astronomical electric bills, particularly in 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.

She says the folks at Spencer Pope Farms have been so satisfied with the results, they’re looking to quadruple the solar capacity powering their chicken houses.  Coupled with the federal tax credits available for solar, that’s no chicken feed.

“We’re in the business of solar, but here in Mississippi we’re also 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 says Mississippi Solar’s been working to get the people who know education best involved: teachers from surrounding schools. “They’re now sponsoring their own solar day at school. The schools have taken the torch and now the teachers are carrying it for our kids,” she said.

In addition to learning why solar is a good business investment and how easy it is to get started, highlights at the “Down on the Farm Solar Tour” include the opportunity to meet the celebrated solar race car team from Choctaw Central High School, first place winners of the recent Hunt-Winston Solar Car Challenge. Their solar-powered car won the divisional race from Texas Motor Speedway to Boulder, Colorado. Grilled chicken legs will be served throughout the day.

This is the second year the Hegmans have participated in the National Solar Tour. Now in its 15th year, the annual American Solar Energy Society (ASES) National Solar Tour features open house tours of thousands of solar-powered homes, businesses, and public agencies. It’s neighbors introducing solar-hungry neighbors to the technologies they are using to 1) slash monthly energy bills, 2) reduce environmentally harmful carbon emissions, 3) assert their energy independence and 4) enjoy rich tax credits and cash incentives as they improve their property values.

“Interest in the solar industry is cooking, and consumers across the nation are eager to sample its wares, which bring enticing tax credits, cash rebates, improved property values and cleaner communities to home and business owners across America,” said the American Solar Energy Society’s (ASES) National Solar Tour Manager Richard Burns.

“The ‘Down on the Farm Solar Tour’ is a great way for folks to see for themselves the innovative technologies available to harness the sun’s energy. It’s also a great chance to learn how solar works, how it’s installed, what it costs — and how Mississippi businesses and property owners can realize big tax credits while supporting local small businesses,” said Burns. “Today’s solar technology has improved to the point where there’s something for everyone – it’s a job-building, money-saving clean energy alternative whose time has come.”

The “Down on the Farm Solar Tour” is Mississippi’s exclusive 2010 tour. Tennessee has eleven tours slated for October 2, 2010. Carolyn Hegman says 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 was a retired gentleman who came ambling along to see it for himself. He 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.’”

ABOUT MISSISSIPPI SOLAR: Mississippi Solar is a licensed Solar Installer/Commercial Electrical Contractor and Residential Builder who designs, installs, and services commercial and residential solar systems that are efficient, easy to use, and will produce electricity for the next 20 years and more. Learn more at www.mssolar.net.

ABOUT THE AMERICAN SOLAR ENERGY SOCIETY: 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 advances research, education, and policy. 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.  www.ases.org.

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Contacts:     Terri Steele for

ASES National Solar Tour

(619) 303-9310


Carolyn Hegman

Mississippi Solar

(305) 807-0323


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