Solar power coming to the White House

Energy Department plans demonstration project

They're plugging in the sun at the White House.

By the end of next spring, the White House will have solar panels and a solar-powered water heater, wrote Energy Secretary Steven Chu on the Energy Department's blog.

"These two solar installations will be part of a Department of Energy demonstration project," he wrote. "The project will show that American solar technology is available, reliable and ready to install in homes throughout the country."


Related coverage:

Marines harness the sun


Chu tied the project into President Barack Obama's championing of solar power, but Obama is not the first president to let the sun shine in at the White House. As the Associated Press noted, former presidents Jimmy Carter and George W. Bush also had solar-power projects.

Carter installed a $30,000 solar water-heating system for West Wing offices, while Bush used solar power for "a maintenance building and some of the mansion, and heated water for the pool," wrote AP's Dina Cappiello.

However, Ronald Reagan had Carter's solar panels removed, wrote Bill McKibben, founder of the international climate campaign 350.org, in the Washington Post. Some of them continued to provide power, though, heating water for Unity College in Maine. Members of 350.org recently carried a solar panel from Maine to Washington, D.C., in an attempt to call attention to the need for alternative energy.

About the Author

Technology journalist Michael Hardy is a former FCW editor.

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