Solar panels finally arrive atop the White House

May 12, 2014

The White House is finally on the solar grid, in response to prodding by environmentalists and nearly four years after then-Energy Secretary Steven Chu pledged that solar panels and a solar water heater would be installed on the historic building's roof.

The American-made panels are converting sunlight into at the first family's residence as part of President Barack Obama's "commitment to lead by example to increase the use of in the U.S.," said Matt Lehrich, a White House spokesman.

The long-awaited announcement came as Obama on Friday touted a raft of administration initiatives aimed at boosting the use of , as part of his alert on climate change - a message that resounds with his liberal base but faces opposition from congressional Republicans, who the president said Friday were "wasting time" arguing about what he said was a settled debate.

"Climate change is real and we have to act now," Obama said at a California Wal-Mart as he praised the company for embracing solar energy. He sought to counter Republican criticism that addressing climate change will cost jobs, saying "there are cost-effective ways to tackle climate change and create jobs at the same time."

He suggested a growing consensus that is a threat: "Unfortunately, inside of Washington we've still got some climate deniers who shout loud, but they're wasting everybody's time on a settled debate," he said.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said that if Obama were serious about creating jobs he'd change course.

"If the president really wanted to be helpful and move America toward , he'd do things like approving the Keystone pipeline, stopping the war on coal," McConnell said.

The panels on the White House are a part of a plan to improve the of the building and "demonstrate that historic buildings can incorporate solar energy and energy efficiency upgrades," Lehrich said.

It's estimated that the upgrades will pay for themselves in over the next eight years - if the next president doesn't remove them. President Jimmy Carter installed 32 panels in 1979, when an Arab oil embargo spiked fuel prices, but President Ronald Reagan removed them in 1986 when the roof was resurfaced.

President George W. Bush had some installed on a maintenance building and on the president's cabana to heat water for the outdoor White House pool, and environmentalists have been pressing Obama to go even further.

"The point is that the president is wanting to highlight that solar can go anywhere, even on the people's house," said Amit Ronen, who directs the George Washington University Solar Institute.

As any homeowner knows, renovations can take time, and the White House isn't the average house. The delays have been attributed to a mix of politics, bureaucracy, security and the historical nature of the building.

Chu promised in October 2010 that the panels would go up on the White House.

"As we move toward a clean energy economy, the White House will lead by example," he said. "It's been a long time since we've had them up there."

By the next year, the Energy Department said the project was mired in the "competitive procurement process."

Solar enthusiasts note that homeowners are unlikely to encounter the same delays. Experienced crews can install panels on two standard houses in a day, though many homes take longer.

The retrofit includes energy-saving equipment such as updated building controls and variable-speed fans, as well as 6.3 kilowatts of solar generation, Lehrich said.

A White House video promoting the panels features new Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz, who proclaims himself "very bullish on the future of as a key part of our clean energy future."

The size of the array of panels used is about the same as that for the average American house, White House usher James Doherty says in the video, noting that because of security concerns, the entire roof couldn't be covered.

At a Mountain View, Calif., Wal-Mart that has atop its roof, Obama announced more than 300 private- and public-sector solar power and energy efficiency commitments that the White House says will create jobs and cut carbon pollution.

And he announced a Department of Energy program to increase the use of high-efficiency outdoor lighting, replacing more than 500,000 lighting poles in towns and cities, starting with Detroit, the Kansas City, Mo., metro area, West Palm Beach, Fla., Little Rock, Ark., and Huntington Beach, Calif.

He said the Department of Energy's Solar Instructor Training program would support training programs at community colleges to help 50,000 students enter the solar industry by 2020.

Obama also said he had ordered an additional $2 billion goal in federal energy efficiency upgrades to federal buildings over the next three years.

Explore further: Sun rises on solar panels on White House roof

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TheGhostofOtto1923
2.7 / 5 (3) May 12, 2014
Gee too bad they didnt use solyndra products. Maybe the company would still be in business (or not)

"Solyndra received a $536 million U.S. Energy Department loan guarantee before going bankrupt. Under the Solyndra restructuring plan, the government is projected to recoup 19 percent on $142.8 million of the loan and nothing on the remaining $385 million. Additionally, Solyndra received a $25.1 million tax break from California's Alternative Energy and Advanced Transportation Financing Authority.

"The majority of Solyndra funding was provided by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act."
EnergySage
5 / 5 (2) May 12, 2014
This is great news. Homeowners should follow in the footsteps of the President and go solar themselves. It's a great financial investment. See how much you could be saving with solar here - http://bit.ly/1gKEjv0
rockwolf1000
4.2 / 5 (5) May 12, 2014
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said that if Obama were serious about creating jobs he'd change course.

"If the president really wanted to be helpful and move America toward energy independence, he'd do things like approving the Keystone pipeline, stopping the war on coal," McConnell said."

Ya because solar panels and wind mills pop into existence out of thin air and don't require installation, cleaning or maintenance and thus can never contribute to the economy. That's why they are a jobs killer. All that free energy and clean air will certainly destroy our world.
freethinking
1 / 5 (1) May 12, 2014
Solar panels are not cost effective. Here is Obama and the Democrats wasting money again. Oh well, in 6 years he and has spent $23,000,000.00 on vacations. Increased health care costs by 25% (with a further 8% increase scheduled for next year). Reduced the number of people with healthcare insurance. Good new is that more people are now on food stamps than ever before. Less people are in the work force than there were in 1970, yet unemployment is still over 10% (using real statistics). More good news, he has reset the Russian threat, made China bold, allowed North Korea to have deliverable nukes. Obama Made NASA job to outreach to the Muslim world while they now have to buy Russian rocket engines. One the failure note, before Obama was elected if gas prices got higher than $1.50 people would blame Bush. Obama's goal was to get gas prices above $5.00, he has failed to do it, gas prices are only $3.85.
Caliban
5 / 5 (3) May 12, 2014
Solar panels are not cost effective. Here is Obama and the Democrats wasting money again. Oh well, in 6 years he and has spent $23,000,000.00 on vacations. Increased health care costs by 25% (with a further 8% increase scheduled for next year). Reduced the number of people with healthcare insurance. Good new is that more people are now on food stamps than ever before. Less people are in [...] now have to buy Russian rocket engines. One the failure note, before Obama was elected if gas prices got higher than $1.50 people would blame Bush. Obama's goal was to get gas prices above $5.00, he has failed to do it, gas prices are only $3.85.


You forgot:

Benghazi! Benghazi! Benghazi! Benghazi! Benghazi! Benghazi! Benghazi! Benghazi! Benghazi! Benghazi! Benghazi! Benghazi! Benghazi! Benghazi! Benghazi! Benghazi!

As to your first lie:

"It's estimated that the upgrades will pay for themselves in energy savings over the next 8 years"

Dolt.

ekim
5 / 5 (2) May 12, 2014
"If the president really wanted to be helpful and move America toward energy independence, he'd do things like approving the Keystone pipeline, stopping the war on coal," McConnell said."

Doesn't Keystone import oil from some other country? How would that promote independence?
Caliban
5 / 5 (2) May 13, 2014
"If the president really wanted to be helpful and move America toward energy independence, he'd do things like approving the Keystone pipeline, stopping the war on coal," McConnell said."

Doesn't Keystone import oil from some other country? How would that promote independence?


Actually, it's a boondoggle, designed to profit the pipeline companies, make serial oilspills inevitable to the detriment of the us, pay bazillions of $$$ to BigCarbon for refining services, all so that TransCanada,et al, can __export__ the fuel offshore.

The end products are not destined for sale in the US at all, the pipeline, once built, will only provide a few hundreds of jobs, and there will be no reduction in foreign oil dependence from KXL.

Only a measly trickle of interstate and US transportation and refining excise will be returned to the US coffers, and guess who will pick up the tab for the long term damages from the inevitable spills and leaks.

That's right. You guessed it.