The Story Behind Solar Panels on the White House

The Story Behind Solar Panels on the White House

Rachael Grad
Feb 2, 2009

Ever wondered what happened to President Jimmy Carter's White House solar panels? Installed in 1979, the panels were taken down in 1986 during the Reagan presidency and now heat a school cafeteria (see which one below the jump)! Solar panels were quietly reinstalled on the White House in 2003, along with two smaller solar thermal systems to heat water. A new documentary coming out soon traces the route of the first panels and interviews those involved in the solar panel decisions. More info, including photos of the panels on the White House and on the school cafeteria, below the jump...

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Shown above the jump is a photo of the White House's West Wing and the solar panels in 1980. Unity College in Maine acquired the panels in 1991 and later installed them on their cafeteria. The photo here shows the cafeteria with the Carter solar panels.

The documentary on the history of the Carter solar panels is still in progress and is titled "A Road not Taken." It will be about 70 minutes long. See a clip of the documentary by visiting the Huffington Post website.

The currently installed solar panels and thermal system provide heat for landscape maintenance personnel and the presidential pool and spa.

(Images: Bill Fitz-Patrick via the White House Museum; The Huffington Post via Treehugger; Bill Fitz-Patrick via the White House Museum.)

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