Obama Offered Free Solar Power For White House

The White House was one of the first government buildings in the USA to have a solar hot water system installed.

President at the time, Jimmy Carter ordered the installation in 1979 and offered tax credits to any US citizen who installed solar power. On unveiling the 32 panel system, President Carter was quoted as saying:

“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 our crippling dependence on foreign oil.”

The solar hot water system was taken down in 1986 during the Reagan presidency; with one Reagan official saying the system was “a joke.. not befitting a superpower”. Those collectors are still working today at Unity College in Unity, Maine. President Reagan also allowed the solar tax credit initiative to expire without renewal.

17 years later, two solar hot water systems and a 9 kW solar electricity system reappeared at the White House – sort of. The solar power system was installed on a maintenance building on White House grounds in 2003; but is reportedly heavily shaded and as a result doesn’t generate much electricity. The Bush Administration also had two smaller solar hot water systems installed that same year.

Some solar supporters in the USA want a more visible Presidential commitment to solar power – solar panels back on the White House roof.

US solar company Sungevity has called on President Obama to install solar panels on the White House and has offered to donate the system. The Oakland, California-based based company has launched a public petition at SolarOnTheWhiteHouse.com to gather support for the initiative.