White House Plans to Install Rooftop Solar Panels

Reader Contribution by Sean Rosner

The White House will add a touch of green next spring, when President Obama will have a solar water heater and solar panels installed on the roof of the nation’s most influential household.

The photovoltaic system, to be installed over the living quarters, will provide electricity for the first family, while the solar water heater will use a solar collector to provide the residence with hot water. The Oct. 5 announcement came exactly one year after Executive Order 13514, Obama’s call to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, water and electricity use. With the new system, the White House hopes to raise awareness about the capabilities and availability of solar energy systems.

This will mark the third occasion that a solar energy system is installed on the White House grounds. President Jimmy Carter had a solar water heating system installed on the roof of the White House in 1979, though it was removed in 1986 by President Reagan. In 2003, the Bush administration had a 9 kW system installed on a maintenance building, which provided electricity for that building and part of the White House living area, and heated the pool.

The upcoming move toward renewable energy has been a long time coming for some environmental activists. Last month, a group of people from 350.org, a global warming activist organization, carried one of President Carter’s solar panels from its current home at Unity College in Maine to Washington in an attempt to persuade the Obama administration to make the White House more sustainable. Though a meeting with officials ended without any immediate success for the protestors, the gesture seems to have had an effect on the administration.