Almost three years after President Barack Obama first promised to bring solar energy back to the White House, solar panels are now being installed.
The history of solar energy at the White House has often reflected the president’s opinion on the green energy movement. In 1979, President Jimmy Carter became the first president to install solar energy panels on the White House roof, in response to the energy crisis of the time.
In 1986, Ronald Reagan had the panels removed while repairs were made to the White House roof. The loss of energy was not keenly felt by Reagan or the presidents that followed, as the panels were mostly symbolic and were only used to heat water in the White House kitchen.
In 2003, President George W. Bush had a solar system installed on the White House grounds. This included panels on the pool’s cabana to heat the water.
Obama first promised to return solar energy to the White House in October of 2010, but the project took longer than many anticipated. The delay came as a result of the stringent standards in use at the president’s home.
“The White House isn’t your typical home,” a White House official said. “It has very specific requirements that had to be addressed as a part of the energy retrofit.”
The project to install the panels comes as the Obamas vacation in Martha’s Vineyard. In addition to the new solar panels, updated building controls and variable-speed fans are being installed.
While Oakland-based solar electricity company Sungevity offered to donate a system to the White House back in 2010, there has been no word on who installed the new panels, or how much they would cost.
The opinions contained in this column are solely those of the writer.
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