Solar Panels on the White House

On October 5th 2010 The Obama administration announced that next spring the White House will have photovoltaic solar panels over the living quarters to heat water and provide some electricity for the first family.

Obama Solar PanelsFacing criticism over its lackluster environmental record and the threat of an upcoming primary challenge, the Obama administration announced that next spring the White House will have photovoltaic solar panels over the living quarters to heat water and provide some electricity for the first family.

This will be the third time  a solar energy system will be installed on the White House. In 1979, President Jimmy Carter solar panels  installed on the roof of the White House to heat water. Carter’s successor, President Regan removed those panels in 1986 and subsequently gutted the research and development budgets for renewable energy. Reagan also eliminated tax breaks for the use of wind turbines and solar technologies. Reagan was quoted as stating, “The Department of Energy has a multibillion-dollar budget, in excess of $10 billion. It hasn’t produced a quart of oil or a lump of coal or anything else in the line of energy.”

President George W. Bush used a 9 kW system solar system to power a maintenance building and some of the mansion, as well as to heat the pool.

Carter Solar PanelsEnvironmental activists have been pushing for a solar powered White House for some time.  Last month, youth  activists from 350.org carried one of the old solar panels from Carter’s presidency  from Unity College in Maine to Washington in an effort to persuade the administration to lead by example and make steps towards a greener future. It appeared that the meeting with officials ended with what appeared to be indifference on their part, and disappointment on the side of the protesters. But it is obvious now the message was heard loud and clear.

So now the most famous residence in America, which has already planted an organic vegetable garden, plans to install solar panels in the spring of next year.

This is one very small step toward a sustainable future. In fact, it’s really a gesture, a statement. We can only hope that much more is to come from this administration.