President Carter First To Use Solar Panels On The White House In 1979 – Guess Who Took Them Down?


On June 20, 1979, solar panels were installed on the roof of the White House. It was the first time any president had done so, back when solar energy was just a concept.

John Wihbey with Yale’s Climate Connections writes:

“For President Jimmy Carter, it had been nearly three years of tough fighting for clean energy. After a long rollout of green tax credits, the creation of a nascent Energy Department, and a pledge to conduct the “moral equivalent of war” (at the time, spoofed by critics as “MEOW”) against an energy crisis, Carter had built up scars. And there would be more to come. He had had battles with Congress and with his political enemies over green issues. But he had some victories, too, and this day brought one more, a small moment of symbolism.”

According to President Carter, the solar energy had, “the power of the sun to enrich our lives as we move away from our crippling dependence on foreign oil.”

And then into the Oval Office rolls Ronald Reagan. Wihbey continues:

“The panels became objects of increasing indifference. And so did the tax credits and research funds that had provided the real meat of Carter’s energy initiatives.President Reagan had declared government the problem, not the solution. That meant no energy credits. That also meant no solar panels.

Reagan press secretary Dale Petroskey told the Associated Press: ‘Putting them back up would be very unwise, based on cost.’ “

Based on cost? The original cost to install solar panels onto the White House roof was only $28,000 – mere pocket change for government spending – even then. Ironically, President Obama reinstalled solar panels into the White House in 2013.

Happy ending? Well, it’s a start. As for President Carter’s panels,

“…in 2006, one panel made it down to the Carter Library in Atlanta, delivered there, fittingly, by two students in a vegetable oil-powered vehicle. The Carter library gladly took them, perhaps sensing the deepening ‘I-told-you-so’ irony of our moment.”

Jimmy Carter, the 39th President has been unjustly criticized and labeled ‘the worst president’ (until George W. Bush), when in fact Carter was one of America’s greatest presidents. Even calling him the ‘best ex-president’ is somewhat of an insult. He was the only president since World War II to keep this country out of war. Under Carter’s administration, no bombs were dropped and no bullets were fired under the American banner. Imagine the thousands, possibly millions, of lives that were spared from this warless president, as well as the Camp David Accords which Carter facilitated. The 1978 peace treaty between Israel and Egypt has kept the two middle eastern countries at peace with each other for over three decades.

The myth about President Carter being ‘weak’ was perpetuated and spoon-fed to Americans by the Reagan administration, the GOP, and the corporate mainstream media of the day. Thanks to social media, a Facebook page has been created to perpetuate the truth – President Carter was, and is, a remarkable Democrat, peacemaker, humanitarian, world leader, and a national treasure.

You can visit and LIKE the Facebook tribute page here: HONORING JIMMY CARTER

Read more:

You can watch the original theatrical trailer from “A Road Not Taken:” The story of the Jimmy Carter White House solar installation.

As the official website for the documentary summarizes:

In 1979, Jimmy Carter, in a visionary move, installed solar panels on the roof of the White House. This symbolic installation was taken down in 1986 during the Reagan presidency. In 1991, Unity College, an environmentally-minded centre of learning in Maine acquired the panels and later installed them on their cafeteria roof.

In «A Road not Taken», Swiss artists Christina Hemauer and Roman Keller travel back in time and, following the route the solar panels took, interview those involved in the decisions regarding these panels as well as those involved in the oil crisis of the time. They also look closely at the way this initial installation presaged our own era.

Symbol Originally posted to Daily Kos by Leslie Salzillo.

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Leslie Salzillo

Leslie Salzillo

Leslie Salzillo is a pro-choice mother, Rush Limbaugh boycotter, political commentator and visual artist. She began contributing to Liberals Unite in June of 2013. Join her on the new Facebook page, Pro-Choice Liberals.
Leslie Salzillo