Obama Administration Announces Plans to Install Solar Panels on the White House

October 05, 2010

Close-up photograph of solar panels on a rooftop.

U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu and Council of Environmental Quality (CEQ) Chair Nancy Sutley today announced plans to install solar panels and a solar hot water heater on the roof of the White House Residence. These two solar installations will be part of a Department of Energy demonstration project showing that American solar technologies are available, reliable, and ready for installation in homes throughout the country. Secretary Chu and Chair Sutley made the announcement during CEQ's 2010 GreenGov Symposium, which is bringing together leaders from federal, state, and local governments, nonprofit and academic communities, and the private sector to identify opportunities around greening the federal government.

"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."

"President Obama has said the federal government has to lead by example in creating opportunity and jobs in clean energy," said Nancy Sutley, Chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality. "By installing solar panels on arguably the most famous house in the country, his residence, the president is underscoring that commitment to lead and the promise and importance of renewable energy in the United States."

The PV system will convert sunlight directly to electricity. The solar hot water heater will have a solar collector facing the sun that will heat water for use in the White House residence. The Department of Energy will now begin a competitive procurement process to select the company responsible for the installations.

By installing solar panels on their homes, consumers are able to effectively lock in the price of electricity they will pay in the years ahead, acting as an insulator against future rises in electricity prices since the systems installed in homes today are expected to last approximately thirty years. Financial incentives are also available to offset the initial costs of installing solar energy systems, including a 30% federal tax credit and additional state, local, and utility incentive programs to encourage the deployment of renewable energy. Visit the Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency Web site for additional information about state, local, and utility rebates for solar generation throughout the country.

The deployment of solar energy and other renewable energy sources will help expand U.S. clean energy manufacturing and create new jobs for American workers. As a result of investments under the Recovery Act, the solar energy industry is growing and solar resources can now be seen in communities nationwide. In the coming years, continued investments in innovation and cutting-edge solar technologies will help make solar energy cost-competitive with conventional electricity sources all across the country.

This announcement is made on the one-year anniversary of President Obama's Executive Order 13514 on Leadership in Environmental, Energy, and Economic Performance, which called on the federal government to lead by example towards a clean energy economy and reduce, measure, and report direct and indirect greenhouse gas pollution. 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. The full guide is availablePDF.

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