The White House Has Solar Panels … Again

They were first installed in 1979.

Nice view.
National Journal
Add to Briefcase
Emma Roller
May 9, 2014, 8:34 a.m.

Pres­id­ent Obama is work­ing to make good on his prom­ise for an “all of the above” en­ergy strategy — and close to home. On Fri­day, while Obama was pro­mot­ing re­new­able en­ergy plans in Cali­for­nia, the White House un­veiled an ar­ray of sol­ar pan­els in­stalled on its roof.

Watch:

The in­stall­a­tion of the sol­ar pan­els is the cul­min­a­tion of a four-year-long ef­fort by al­tern­at­ive-en­ergy ad­voc­ates to bring the pan­els back to the White House. Yes, back. In 1979, then-Pres­id­ent Jimmy Carter had sol­ar pan­els in­stalled, to much con­ser­vat­ive eye-rolling. In 1986, Ron­ald Re­agan had the pan­els taken down, but they found a new home at Unity Col­lege in Maine. In 2010, the anti-cli­mate-change group 350.org brought back one of the Carter ad­min­is­tra­tion sol­ar pan­els to the White House as part of an ef­fort to re-in­stall the pan­els.

White House of­fi­cials couldn’t in­stall the pan­els across the en­tire roof be­cause of “se­cur­ity con­cerns” — in oth­er words, they’d im­pede the Secret Ser­vice snipers who hang out on the White House roof.

Some people don’t like how the pan­els look.

And while the en­ergy pro­duced by the White House pan­els may not be all too sig­ni­fic­ant — they’ll gen­er­ate an es­tim­ated 6.3 kilo­watts worth of en­ergy — the mes­sage it sends is. As 350’s lead­er noted at the time, first lady Michelle Obama’s ve­get­able garden in­spired many people to start their own back­yard plots.

A White House staffer in the video notes that sol­ar en­ergy has cre­ated 23,000 jobs in the U.S. over the past year, and that every four minutes a new busi­ness or homeown­er “goes sol­ar.” If sol­ar pan­els can be in­stalled on the most pres­ti­gi­ous house in Amer­ica, maybe oth­er Amer­ic­ans will stop think­ing of them as an eye­sore.

×