White House Announces the Return of Solar Panels

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White House

A White House official confirmed that solar panels are being installed on the First Family’s residence. Photo: Flikr/Tom Lohdan

In 2010, the Obama administration pledged that it would show the president’s commitment to renewable energy by putting solar panels on the White House. This week, Obama made good on the promise, as construction workers began putting the panels in place.

A White House official confirmed to The Washington Post that the project was in process and said it was “part of an energy retrofit” to improve the efficiency of the building.

The official, who has asked for anonymity, says that the solar panels will pay for themselves in eight years through energy savings. Furthermore, the installation will show the value of retrofitting older buildings — even historic ones — and creating more energy-efficient buildings.

Solar panels had previously been installed on the roof of the White House during Jimmy Carter’s presidency and were used to provide hot water to the building. They were removed in 1986 by former President Ronald Reagan. During George W. Bush’s presidency, two solar thermal units and a photovoltaic system were installed on a maintenance building to heat the White House swimming pool.

It is not yet clear how many solar panels are being installed or how they will be used. Obama previously had pledged to installing 20 to 50 solar panels.

The installation of solar panels is one of several measures taken to increase energy efficiency and the use of renewable energy, according to the The Washington Post, based on a plan outlined by the president and signed into an executive order in October 2009. Other measures have included doubling the number of hybrid cars and trucks in the federal fleet, increasing the government’s use of renewable energy and cutting the government’s greenhouse gas emissions.

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The White House’s announcement comes just days after a report released earlier this week by the Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory indicates that the price to install solar panels has fallen to an all-time low.