They were first installed in 1979.
President Obama is working to make good on his promise for an "all of the above" energy strategy—and close to home. On Friday, while Obama was promoting renewable energy plans in California, the White Houseunveiled an array of solar panels installed on its roof.
The installation of the solar panels is the culmination of a four-year-long effort by alternative-energy advocates to bring the panels back to the White House. Yes, back. In 1979, then-President Jimmy Carter had solar panels installed, to much conservative eye-rolling. In 1986, Ronald Reagan had the panels taken down, but they found a new home at Unity College in Maine. In 2010, the anti-climate-change group 350.org brought back one of the Carter administration solar panels to the White House as part of an effort to re-install the panels.
White House officials couldn't install the panels across the entire roof because of "security concerns"—in other words, they'd impede the Secret Service snipers who hang out on the White House roof.
Some people don't like how the panels look.
And while the energy produced by the White House panels may not be all too significant—they'll generate an estimated 6.3 kilowatts worth of energy—the message it sends is. As 350's leader noted at the time, first lady Michelle Obama's vegetable garden inspired many people to start their own backyard plots.
A White House staffer in the video notes that solar energy has created 23,000 jobs in the U.S. over the past year, and that every four minutes a new business or homeowner "goes solar." If solar panels can be installed on the most prestigious house in America, maybe other Americans will stop thinking of them as an eyesore.