When he’s driving his eye-popping Tesla sports car or his Nissan Leaf mini-wagon, Will Hegman just smiles as he passes gas stations. Pump prices don’t concern him. Both vehicles run on electricity alone.

A solar carport charges the car batteries. Another solar array provides power for his shop.

And when the year's charges for electricity are totaled, he often smiles again as he sees an amount owed him. Electricity produced by his solar array is uploaded to the electric grid and he is paid for that power under a contract with the Tennessee Valley Authority. The amount he receives for his solar-generated electricity often more than offsets what he is charged for electricity from his local power association.

Hegman’s wife, Carolyn, who commutes to Jackson, Miss., and then Dallas for her work as a flight attendant on American Airlines international routes, drives an energy-efficient Toyota Prius hybrid.

“Our personal use of energy from fossil fuels is negligible,” says Will, a native Mississippian and retired commercial pilot who became interested in the possibilities of solar while working in the Caribbean. “Unfortunately, I spend a chunk of money each month on diesel for the company trucks.”

Their company, MS Solar, at Philadelphia, Miss., in operation for seven years, has marketed, designed, and installed solar systems in poultry operations, farm shops, businesses, schools, homes, and other facilities, helping owners to utilize the sun’s free and abundant energy to reduce costs and environmental footprint.

MS Solar installed a 50 kW system at the new $2 billion Toyota facility at Blue Springs, Miss. — the only tracking solar array in Mississippi.

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Despite the advantages of the technology, economically and environmentally, there is a lot of misinformation about it, he says. “It’s like the wild, wild west, in terms of the availability of solid facts about solar, and in terms of standards, regulations, etc.

“People say Mississippi isn’t geographically suited to solar power, that there isn’t enough solar radiation here, that solar systems are unreliable, that solar is just a fad, and on and on.”

But, says Hegman, the facts are that solar systems are extremely reliable and can be economically feasible for many Mississippi farmers, homeowners, businesses, schools, churches, and almost any structure that needs electricity.