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Solar News

Sun Will Shine Again on the White House: Solar Panels Coming to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue


Hooray for President Obama! He is going to restore solar to the White House, so many years after President Reagan removed the Carter panels. But wait! As Greentechmedia reports, solar energy was installed on the White House grounds during Bush II.  A 10 kilowatt photovoltaic system and two thermal solar systems were installed within the White House compound during George W. Bush's presidency.  "All the inverters had to go to the Secret Service warehouse for clearance, presumably for inspection for listening devices and explosives," according to Greentechmedia.

For those who have been waiting for the announcement that President Obama was "restoring" panels to the White House, this little bit of history seems to get in the way. But then one has to wonder what took Obama so long--possibly he may have had a few other things on his plate. Be that as it may, let us celebrate that the White House is getting a solar make-over. According to the Department of Energy's official announcement, the Administration "plans to install solar panels and a solar hot water heater on the roof of the White House Residence. These two solar installations will be part of a Department of Energy demonstration project showing that American solar technologies are available, reliable, and ready for installation in homes throughout the country."

The media is rife with speculation on the timing of the announcement. You may have seen SolarTown's offer to donate a solar panel. We would have arranged a meeting between President Obama and a Mongolian nomad who adopted solar energy several years ago. Or maybe he saw the petition on the web site: "We proudly support the initiative to put solar on the White House...."  The home page shows a neon sign of Obama with the tagline "GLŌBAMA." You've got to love it.

Obama seemed impervious to the criticisms leveled at him and steadfastly seemed to resist the entreaties to go solar. Maybe as Politico suggests, it was that he wanted to resist the comparison with Jimmy Carter.

There are many symbols in President Barack Obama's decision Tuesday to return solar panels to the White House roof: a nod to liberal "green" voters, a sign of personal commitment to the fight against climate change, a reminder of his pledge to retool the U.S. industrial sector to manufacture clean-energy components. One image his administration probably didn't want to invoke, however, was that of former President Jimmy Carter, whose term was considered a disaster for Democrats.

Salon noted the Administration's about face on installing solar at the White House, "This is either a welcome change of tone, prefiguring a new push on climate change and renewable energy, or yet another example of how a too-cautious administration keeps stepping on its feet. Or both."

Whatever the reason for the timing, solar enthusiasts were very pleased by the announcement and are looking forward to going to the White House for next year's solar home tours.