Seeing the President use green technology could prove a huge boost to a blossoming industry, so the fact that the Obama administration is overseeing the installation of solar panels at the White House, is a fairly big deal.
In 1979, Jimmy Carter was the first president to install solar panels at the White House, as relief during the energy crisis; but then in 1986 President Ronald Reagan took down the panels.
In 2010, Bill McKibben, the founder of 350.org, and famed environmental activist, took a group of students from Unity College in Maine (where the old White House panels had been relocated) on a trip to the White House. They delivered one of the old solar panels and asked for it to be reinstalled, or at least encourage the deployment of a new range of solar panels at the President’s home.
Having been made no promises, and believing their mission a failure, the group were surprised to note that a year later, in 2011, Energy Secretary Steven Chu announced that the White House would indeed receive solar panels and a solar water heater in the summer.
The schedule was a bit off, but finally, two years later, solar panels are once again being installed at the White House.
An official from the White House stated that, “the White House has begun installing American-made solar panels on the first family’s residence as part of an energy retrofit that will improve the overall energy efficiency of the building.
The retrofit will include the installation of energy-saving equipment, such as updated building controls and variable speed fans, as well as solar generation. The project will help demonstrate that historic buildings can incorporate solar energy and energy-efficiency upgrades.”
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Bill McKibben commented that it is “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. 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.”
It is very likely that the timing of the panels installation has been set to coincide with the President’s vacation to Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts, in order to minimise any disruption to the family.
By. Joao Peixe of Oilprice.com
Joao is a writer for Oilprice.com