Three years after the Obama administration had pledged to install solar panels to help part-generate electricity for the White House in Washington, the process has finally begun.
A White House official confirmed to the Washington Post that the building was undergoing the process as “a part of an energy retrofit that will improve the overall energy efficiency of the building.”
At the time of the 2010 announcement, then-Energy Secretary Steven Chu and White House Council on Environmental Quality chair Nancy Sutley said the administration would conduct a competitive bidding process to buy between 20 and 50 solar panels. The officials did not identify the supplier or cost of the project, but wrote that the White House “has begun installing American-made solar panels” and the initiative, “which will help demonstrate that historic buildings can incorporate solar energy and energy efficiency upgrades, is estimated to pay for itself in energy savings over the next eight years.”
The retrofit also includes installing updated building controls and variable speed fans, the official added.
This is not the first time solar panels have graced the White House’s roof: President Jimmy Carter had 32 installed in the late 1970s to provide hot water, but President Ronald Reagan removed them in 1986. Then in 2003 President George W. Bush installed a photovoltaic system on a maintenance building and two solar thermal units. The system heated the White House swimming pool.
The administration has since taking office increased the government’s use of renewable energy to 7 per cent, cut the federal government’s greenhouse gas emissions by 15 per cent and committed $2bn to upgrade federal buildings’ energy efficiency through contracting requirements at no up-front cost to taxpayers.