White House returns to solar panels

Tuesday - 10/5/2010, 2:05pm EDT

The Obama administration announced Tuesday its commitment to bring solar energy to the White House.

But this isn't the first time the White House has tapped the sun for energy. In 1979, President Jimmy Carter installed 32 solar panels on the White House roof for heating the water system in the West Wing offices.

However, Ecopolitology reports, "The solar panels ... were removed when the White House roof was being repaired in 1986 during the Reagan Administration. At the same time, funding for research into renewable energy all but dried up."

The recent announcement to install solar panels comes one month after activists led by environmentalist Bill McKibben urged President Obama to reinstall one of President Carter's solar panels, according to The New York Times. The White House turned down the offer.

So what happened to the Carter-era solar panels? A few have ended up as museum pieces, Scientific American reports. One is at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History, one at the Carter Library and Science and Technology Museum in Dezhou, China.

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