ASES Lands SunShot Grant to Support National Solar Tour

Carly Rixham

Maria Watts stands on the roof of the Cedar Hill, Texas, Government Center during the 2014 DFW Solar Tour. The North Texas Renewable Energy Group, a chapter of the Texas Solar Energy Society, organized the tour. Photo credit: Ntreg.org

I was driving down Broadway in Boulder, Colorado, recently to Seth Masia’s house (former American Solar Energy Society executive director and SOLAR TODAY editor) to pick up some conference material, and as I was turning left onto Baseline, I saw Seth’s solar camper with its prominent ASES logos cruise through the intersection. Seth donated the camper to public radio, and this was its last voyage. It was a charming camper, full of road trip memories crossing mountain passes and basking in sunny deserts, and it was a bittersweet goodbye.

Looking forward to the road ahead, several new and exciting programs are underway at ASES. Thanks to the drive of Texas Solar Energy Society (TXSES) Executive Director Lucy Stolzenburg, ASES has recently been awarded a U.S. Department of Energy SunShot grant for the National Solar Tour! ASES and TXSES put together a NTREG.ORG video pitch for support of the tour and have been chosen to receive software development services from Topcoder, as finalists for cash prizes of up to $100,000 each.

This win will filter down to the ASES chapters and ultimately to anyone with a solar installation who wants to share their experience with their neighbors and community during the tour. The funds will help develop an interactive, more accessible, user-friendly tour website, which will make it easier for tour goers, tour hosts, and tour organizers to connect and access information on tours, and network at the local events. ASES has started working with a SunShot team to begin the incubation and prototyping phases of development, and will be ready to launch the site this spring.

We are on the lookout for new tours in areas with developing solar energy interest. This year’s tour is coming to a neighborhood near you, so mark your calendar for October 3-4, 2015 (the date may vary by local chapter). Please contact me if you would like to sponsor the tour. Learn more at nationalsolartour.org.

This year’s ASES National Solar Conference—SOLAR 2015, to be held July 28-30, 2015, at Penn State University in State College, Pennsylvania—is going to be great fun as we bring in world-class speakers and researchers working on the cutting edge. SOLAR 2015 will offer opportunities for emerging professionals, including a networking session, so you can polish off your resume and show it off at SOLAR 2015. And there’s still time to submit an abstract or forum proposal.

State College has endless trails for mountain biking and running, as well as several sites for solar tours, including a tour of Penn State’s MorningStar PA house from the 2007 U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon. We are also pleased to host our annual awards banquet. There are several sponsor.ship opportunities for events and publicity at SOLAR 2015. Check out ases.org/conference for details.

In November, ASES formed a new technical division to help ASES members understand the economics of all energy feedstocks. The Energy Economics Division is led by Bill Ellard, energy economist, CEO, and software architect at Energy Solutions Partners. Learn more about the division and get involved at ases.org/divisions.

I am also excited to share that ASES has just hired two new emerging professionals—Paul Morgan as the operations manager, and Lauren Harrower as the membership manager and data analyst. Come visit us ahead of time as we sponsor the Green Program’s Emerging Sustainability Leaders’ Soiree at the Impact Hub Philadelphia on April 9, 2015. We are excited for an array of new opportunities as we gear up for a fossil fuel-free future!

Carly Rixham

Carly Rixham (crixham@ases.org) is the executive director at the American Solar Energy Society.