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After musing about the White House’s spotty history with solar systems, it became clear to me how uncannily the rooftop systems that adorned the White House paralleled White House solar policy.
When the 1970’s oil crisis spiked energy prices the policy makers in Washington were able to focus their energies and create a solar feed-in tariff. In that same spirit, riding the momentum, President Jimmy Carter led by shining example and had a solar system installed on his own residency, the White House.
However, during the Reagan administration solar (as well as other renewable energy sources) suffered. President Ronald Reagan allowed the previous administration’s financial incentives to disappear and big oil continued to dominate the energy market. In a not so subtle move, President Carter’s solar system was unceremoniously removed by President Reagan and his advisers.
In 2003, President Bush allowed the National Park Service to install a system on a grounds maintenance building. While the nod towards solar is appreciated, the lack of prominence of a system at the White House demonstrates our government’s need for a more enthusiastic and comprehensive approach to renewable energy in order to stop climate change in its tracks. It’s time for solar to take this country by storm!