Whatever Happened To Jimmy Carter's Solar Panels?

TreeHugger readers know the story- how Jimmy Carter put on a sweater, turned down the thermostat and put solar water heater panels on the roof of the White House. Ronald Reagan famously removed them, and Unity College in Maine put them on the roof of their cafeteria (and donated one to the Jimmy Carter Museum.)

Now two Swiss artists are making a film about it, and everything is not as we remember it.


In "A Road not Taken", swiss artists Christina Hemauer and Roman Keller travel back in time and, following the route the panels took, interview those involved in the solar panel decisions, in the oil crisis of the time, and in the way that that moment presaged our own era.

For one thing, Unity College found them inefficient and has removed them.

For another, There are already solar photovoltaic and water solar panels on the roof of the White House. We at TreeHugger have suggested that President Obama reinstall them,but evidently closet green George Bush beat him to it. According to Cooler Planet Blog:

In 2003, solar photovoltaic panels were installed at the White House. Two smaller solar thermal systems were also installed to heat water: one for landscape maintenance personnel, the other for the presidential pool and spa.

The Park Service, who oversees White House maintenance, decided to install a new set of solar panels on a maintenance building adjacent to the main house because as James Doherty, an architect with the National Park Service told Environmental Building News in 2003, "we are always looking for opportunities to promote renewable energy and sustainable design and we decided to take advantage of this next opportunity to pursue that mission at the White House."

Although the White House has never revealed (for security reasons) how much energy each system generates, it acknowledges the system is modest and more a symbol of the Park Service's commitment to renewable energy than an all-out power system. The Bush Administration itself never really announced the project. Instead the installation was completed "under the radar;" industry trade journals were the media that picked up the story.

via Huffington Post

More on Solar Panels and the White House

Is George Bush a Closet Green?
Admit it: Jimmy Carter Was Right
Be the Change... Obama Should Reinstall White House Solar Panels ...
Presidents Day Survey: Who is the Greenest President?

Tags: Barack Obama | Solar Power