In October 2010 the Obama administration pledged to put solar panels on the White House as a sign of the president’s commitment to renewable energy, and now that promise is being fulfilled. It’s part of an energy retrofit that will improve the overall energy efficiency of the building, according to a report in the Washington Post.
When the announcement was first made, then-Energy Secretary Steven Chu and White House Council on Environmental Quality chair Nancy Sutley said a bidding process would determine which company the White House would buy the 20 to 50 solar panels needed for the initiative. The retrofit also includes installing updated building controls and variable speed fans.
Officials did not identify the supplier or cost of the project now in process, but did confirm the panels are American-made. They also said that the project shows that even historic buildings can incorporate solar energy and energy efficiency upgrades. This one is estimated to pay for itself in energy savings over the next eight years.
The Obama administration has undertaken other measures to increase federal government’s energy efficiency and cut emissions, the result of an executive order he signed in October 2009. For example, it doubled the number of hybrid cars and truck in the federal fleet, increased the government’s use of renewable energy to 7 percent, cut the federal government’s greenhouse gas emissions by 15 percent, and committed $2 billion to upgrade federal buildings’ energy efficiency through contracting requirements at no up-front cost to taxpayers.
So far administration officials say these measures have collectively saved 7 million gallons of gas and been equivalent to permanently removing 1.5 million cars from the road.
Obama has set a new goal of having 20 percent of the federal government’s energy use come from renewable power by 2020, which includes the Army, Navy, and Air Force deploying a combined 3 gigawatts of renewable energy by the end of the decade.
This is not the first time solar panels have been installed on the White House roof. President Jimmy Carter installed panels in the late 1970s to provide hot water, but President Ronald Reagan removed them in 1986. In 2003 President George W. Bush installed a photovoltaic system on a maintenance building and two solar thermal units that heated the White House swimming pool.
To read the full Washington Post article cited in this story, click here