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Solar Panels Are Back on the White House Roof!

10/6/2010 12:00:00 AM

Tags: solar panels, solar power, White House, Obama administration

When President Ronald Reagan removed the 32 solar panels that his predecessor, Jimmy Carter, put on the White House roof, most people saw it as a metaphor for renewable energy’s future in that administration. For the next 20 years, alternative energy languished in this country, a solution for the super-rich or the super-crunchy but not accessible to most of us. But the times, they are a-changin’ (really).

A year ago yesterday President Obama signed an executive order asking the federal government to lead the nation in supporting clean energy and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. One year later, he’s sticking to his word. His administration announced yesterday that he will install solar panels and a solar hot water heater on the White House roof by spring 2011.

White House lawn 
Solar panels and a solar hot water heater will grace the White House roof by spring 2011. Photo By NVinacco/Courtesy Flickr. 

The Carter administration originally installed solar panels on the White House roof in 1979; the Reagan administration took them down in 1986. Last month, youth climate activists brought those original solar panels to a meeting with White House officials in hopes of having them reinstalled, but they were turned down. Less than a month later, White House officials changed their minds and announced they would welcome solar panels back on the White House roof. Secretary of Energy Steven Chu made the announcement yesterday at the opening of the first annual GreenGov Symposium, which is bringing together leaders in government, academic communities and the private sector to help the federal government meets its self-imposed goal of increased sustainability.

Despite its executive snubbing, the U.S. solar energy industry has grown rapidly in the last five years—although it still has a long way to go until it’s a major power source in this country. Homeowners and renters now have a number of options for powering homes with solar panels—at any budget.

Let the sun shine in.

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