The Obama Administration recently announced plans to install new solar panels and a solar hot water heater on the roof of the White House.
The new installations will serve as the Department of Energy’s demonstration project to show Americans that solar technologies are reliable, available and ready for use in their homes.
“President Obama has said the Federal Government has to lead by example in creating opportunity and jobs in clean energy,” Nancy Sutley, chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality, said in a statement. “By installing solar panels on arguably the most famous house in the country…the President is underscoring that commitment to lead and the promise and importance of renewable energy in the United States.”
The new system will convert sunlight directly into electricity and the solar hot water heater will have a solar collector facing the sun to heat water for use in the White House. The Department of Energy plans to choose, through a competitive procurement process, the company that will install the solar additions.
According to the Associated Press, the move had been mulled and put off for quite some time.
“We keep hearing, ‘We’ll see’ and ‘it’s complicated,’” Bill McKibben, an environmental activist who pushed for the installation, told the Associated Press prior to the move’s finalization. “Compared with the other things Obama has to do, it seems relatively easy. You can’t filibuster the roof.”
Critics of the installations have compared Obama to President Jimmy Carter, who also had solar technology installed in the 1970s in response to oil embargoes. They were eventually removed by President Ronald Reagan upon his entrance into office.
Other observers say Obama’s installation of the technology is a cheap attempt at good grace with environmentalists. But Jeremy Mayer, an associate public policy professor at George Mason University, said he believes that Obama will benefit from this move, although he may initially endure some negative publicity.
“But the more important policy and political achievement is the feelings of support that millions of Americans who have taken similar small steps in their own lives will feel,” Mayer told Politico.com.