ION Solar Blog

Presidents Day: The History of Solar Power at the White House

The White House has been through many decorative changes throughout the years as each new president makes the house their own. One of the most relevant changes, perhaps, has been the installation and removal of solar panels. In light of Presidents Day, the following is the history of the White House and solar power.

HiraV via Wikimedia Commons

Jimmy Carter

Jimmy Carter, the 39th President, was the first ever to install solar panels on the White House. He installed an array of 32 solar thermal panels during the 1979 oil crisis. Carter’s vision was to encourage Americans to conserve energy and reduce their dependence on fossil fuels.

Public Domain Jimmy Carter Presidential Library

During installation, Jimmy Carter stated, “A generation from now, this solar heater can either be a curiosity, a museum piece, an example of a road not taken, or it can be a small part of one of the greatest and most exciting adventures ever undertaken by the American people — harnessing the power of the sun to enrich our lives as we move away from crippling dependence on foreign oil.”

Ronald Reagan

Ronald Reagan, the 40th President, did not share the same enthusiasm about solar power. He removed the solar panels around the same time he withdrew support for renewable energy tax credits and the Department of Energy.

George W. Bush

America’s 43rd President, George W. Bush was the next to have solar panels installed on the White House. He installed a 9 kW (kilowatt) photovoltaic system and two solar water heaters. He never declared any symbolic reasons for the installation.

Barack Obama

Barack Obama, America’s 44th president, reinstalled solar panels on the White House, but he did it on a much larger scale. Obama’s choice for solar panels was purposeful, as he was known for his pro-renewable energy policies.

Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Minh Le, Director of Solar Tech at the Department of Energy stated, “The President is basically doing what Americans all across the nation are doing right now. They’re making the conscious choice to look for renewable energy like solar as the cheaper, cleaner, and preferred energy source for their homes and families.”

Here’s to looking for renewable energy like solar as the cheaper, cleaner and preferred energy source for our homes and families. Happy Presidents Day!



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