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Solar Panels Will Return to White House by Spring 2011

U.S. Energy Secretary Steve Chu announced today, along with Nancy, Sutley, Chair of the White House Council of Environmental Quality (CEQ), that the White House will once again have solar panels.

This announcement follows on the annual Solar and Green Buildings Tour in the northeast U.S., and last month’s attempt by environmentalist Bill McKibben to persuade the White House to reinstall its original solar panel. McKibben has one of the panels which President Jimmy Carter installed but which were removed by the Reagan Administration in 1986. McKibben recently drove the panel to Washington with the hope that it would be reinstated as a symbol of the Obama Adminstration’s commitment to clean energy.

“This project reflects President Obama’s strong commitment to U.S. leadership in solar energy and the jobs it will create here at home,” said Secretary Chu. “Deploying solar energy technologies across the country will help America lead the global economy for years to come.”

The planned installation will include both solar photovoltaics, for generating electricity, and a solar hot water system to heat domestic hot water. It will be part of a Department of Energy demonstration project which intends to show that American-made solar technologies are not only available and reliable, but also ready for installation in homes throughout the country and affordable when homeowners take advantage of federal, state and local incentives. DOE plans to source the panels through a competitive bid process.

The solar industry has been growing at an unprecedented rate over the past five years, with more businesses and American-based manufacturers entering the industry. Last year’s annual conference of the American Solar Energy Society, held in Buffalo, showcased local and international companies in the solar industry including Solar Liberty, one of the leading solar installation firms in Western New York.

Today’s announcement also comes on the one-year anniversary of Executive Order 13514, signed by President Obama, which called on the Federal Government to lead by example in clean energy and greenhouse gas reductions. In support of this goal, the Department of Energy also released “Procuring Solar Energy: A Guide for Federal Facility Decision Makers” to support the use of solar energy throughout the Federal Government.

by Roxanne Button