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Obama admin. ruins historic building with solar panels

The White House is installing solar panels on its roof as part of an effort to improve the energy efficiency of the building, making good on the president’s 2010 pledge to green his residence.

“The White House has begun installing American-made solar panels on the first family’s residence as a part of an energy retrofit that will improve the overall energy efficiency of the building,” said a White House official.

“The retrofit will include the installation of energy-saving equipment, such as updated building controls and variable speed fans, as well as solar generation. The project will help demonstrate that historic buildings can incorporate solar energy and energy efficiency upgrades,” the official added.

The White House did not disclose how much the solar panel system would cost taxpayers or reveal any details about the project. The official also said they would be “American-made” but would not disclose which company would make them.

Even so, environmentalists hailed the decision — while also criticizing the White House for taking so long.

“Better late than never — in truth, no one should ever have taken down the panels Jimmy Carter put on the roof way back in 1979,” said Bill McKibben of 350.org.  “But it’s very good to know that once again the country’s most powerful address will be drawing some of that power from the sun.”

In 2009, Obama promised to improve the energy efficiency of federal buildings and increase the use of renewable energy at federal facilities, and the next year, he promised to install solar panels on the White House.

When Obama made his 2010 promise, then-Energy Secretary Steven Chu and White House chief energy adviser Nancy Sutley said would purchase between 20 and 50 solar panels.

Obama will be the third president to “green” the White House, as Jimmy Carter first installed solar panels up in 1979, but they were removed under President Reagan in 1986. President George W. Bush installed a solar system on a maintenance shed on White House grounds.

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