Online registration has begun for solar-savvy installers and grassroots organizations interested in showcasing their communities’ solar-powered homes, businesses, and public agencies during the Boulder, Colo.-based non-profit American Solar Energy Society's (ASES) 15th annual National Solar Tour, the world's largest grassroots solar event. Last year, 150,000 people in 49 states and Puerto Rico participated.

The event features open house tours of thousands of solar-powered homes, businesses, and public agencies across America to introduce the solar technologies citizens are using to: slash monthly energy bills, reduce harmful carbon emissions, assert their energy independence, and enjoy tax credits and cash incentives as they improve their property values. The bulk of the tours take place on or about October 2 depending on weather. Some are scheduled earlier to avoid conflicts with perennial local events.

"In the wake of the largest man-made environmental disaster in U.S. history, learning about clean, job-creating energy options that provide tax breaks, lower energy bills, and create cleaner communities for all of us is something everyone can do to begin to address America's addiction to fossil fuels," says National Solar Tour Manager Richard Burns. "The National Solar Tour brings families and businesses real-life examples of how their neighbors are harnessing free energy from the sun to generate electricity to warm and cool their homes and heat their water — without polluting our environment."

The self-guided and bus-hosted tours, organized by grassroots organizations and solar installers throughout the country, afford participants the direct perspectives of businesses, home owners, and installers about the costs, processes, and benefits of going solar. The tours also give Americans a glimpse at the latest technologies and how a variety of solar systems look in and around structures with different architectural styles. Featured are solar-powered homes, farms, public agencies, condo complexes, and solar-powered businesses that run the gamut from donut shops to ceramic shops and funeral homes.

"With enticing federal tax credits, billions of dollars in grants and loans, state-funded cash rebates and a groundswell of consumer support for sustainable solutions that promote energy independence, the economics of solar have never been more compelling — for businesses, public agencies, consumers or entrepreneurs," says Jyl Safier, marketing director for Denver-based Conergy, four-year National Solar Tour sponsor. "Technologies have improved, solar module prices have dropped, and credit markets have loosened to the point where folks are eager to explore their solar energy options. Today, solar energy is not just good for the environment, it’s a job-creating, business-building, revenue-generating revolution whose time has come."

For more information, visit the National Solar Tour Web site.