Inspired by sunny skies, temperatures in the 70s and steadily increasing solar installations in the city, about 100 people visited sites on the fourth annual Anchorage Solar Tour Saturday, June 8. The 2013 event featured several new sites and 10 percent more attendees than last year’s tour.

“The day was without clouds, and the passive and active solar features were performing fantastically, making quite an impression on those seeing these systems up close for the first time,” said tour organizer and clean energy consultant Andy Baker.

Off Grid Alaska
An off-grid hybrid wind-PV system provides at least 80 percent of this 5 Star Plus-rated home’s energy needs. Photo: YourCleanEnergy LLC

Beginning Saturday morning with commercial building sites downtown, the tour moved south across the expansive Anchorage Bowl to midtown and then to the energy-efficient homes at the foot of the Chugach Mountain Range. The owners or architect of each building explained the history of the project and shared lessons learned along the way.

Anchorage is generally sunny about half the time, so passive and active solar provide strong returns if located and designed properly, according to Baker. “The long and cold winters, coupled with increasing fossil fuel and grid electricity prices, are slowly pushing the use of solar into the mainstream here,” he said. “People in Alaska are realizing they can choose between the simple independence of renewable energy, or an uncertain and complicated dependence on fossil fuels.” Baker expects to have as many as six new tour sites next year.

The Anchorage Solar Tour is sponsored by the Alaska Center For Appropriate Technology, ASES, Renewable Energy Alaska Project, YourCleanEnergy and the Alaska Center For The Environment.

For details of this and other solar tours in Alaska, visit alaskasolartour.org.

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