Obama Administration Installs Solar Panels on White House

As the U.S. solar market continues to expand, President Obama brings renewable energy to the White House.

| August 20, 2013

White House

President Obama will reinstall the White House solar panels that President Carter spearheaded in 1979 and President Reagan took down in 1986.

Photo by Fotolia/Vaccalav

350.org founder and well-known environmentalist Bill McKibben applauded the Obama Administration's announcement that they are at work installing a new set of solar panels on the White House roof. 

“Better late than never — in truth, no one should ever have taken down the panels Jimmy Carter put on the roof way back in 1979,” said McKibben. “But it's very good to know that once again the country's most powerful address will be drawing some of that power from the sun.” 

The solar panels President Carter installed in 1979 were taken down by President Reagan in 1986.

In September of 2010, 350.org found one of the original Carter era-panels at Unity College in Maine, where it had been heating water for the cafeteria. McKibben and a group of Unity students decided to take a road trip to return the panel to the White House and request that President Obama reinstall it on the roof or commission a new set of panels. 

Over 50,000 people also signed onto a petition led by Sungevity, along with other solar companies, calling on the President to take action. 

The White House initially declined the request, but reversed course a month later when then-Secretary of Energy Stephen Chu announced that the White House would put up a new set of panels by the end of spring 2011. The administration missed that deadline, but appears to be moving forward with the commitment today. 

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