Reporting from Washington — More than two decades after President Reagan had a solar water heating system removed from the White House roof, President Obama will become the first to use solar energy as a means for powering the first family's White House residence.
Plans to install solar panels and a solar water heater on the roof of the White House residence were announced Tuesday by Energy Secretary Steven Chu and Nancy Sutley, who heads the Council on Environmental Quality, as part of a larger Energy Department effort to portray solar power as reliable and accessible.
Solar panels provided hot water for West Wing offices under Presidents Carter and Reagan, but Reagan had the panels removed in the 1980s.
Since Obama's election, advocates of solar energy have hounded the administration to return solar energy to the White House. This year, a group led by environmentalist and author Bill McKibben unearthed one of the Carter-era panels, which were stored at Unity College near Bangor, Maine, and attempted to deliver it to the White House. White House officials agreed to meet with McKibben but did not accept the panel.