The History of the Jimmy Carter Solar Panels Movement

President Jimmy Carter installs solar panels on the White House

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It’s always fascinating to watch the leaders of our world to take help of something deemed futuristic. This is especially true when the eyes of the world are watching nearly every moment and movement of your life. Just ask Jimmy Carter. In 1979, history was made with the Jimmy Carter solar panels movement in the White House.

Almost 42 years ago, Jimmy Carter set up solar panels on top of the White House. You read that correctly: there were once solar panels on the roof of the White House. However, now in 2021 you might have noticed that there aren’t any solar panels adorning the roof anymore. 

So what happened to the Jimmy Carter solar panels? Simply put, they were quietly taken down five years after installation during the Reagan administration. 

After five years on the White House roof, the solar panels were brought to Unity College in Maine to bring attention to the university’s environmental education mission. They stayed in Maine until 2005. Now, those solar panels are on display in The Smithsonian Institute, the Carter Library, and the Solar Science and Technology Museum in Dezhou, China. These panels are on display to show the testament that Carter had for the importance of renewable energy. 

In fact, these panels are so popular that they sparked a concept for a documentary to feature their history

aerial view of the white house and washington DC

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How did Jimmy Carter Get Solar Panels on the White House?

Jimmy Carter was undoubtedly decades ahead of his time. At the time, he was the first President to acknowledge the need for renewable energy sources. Therefore, he installed 32 solar panels on the West Wing of the White House. These solar panels powered the cafeteria, laundry and other sections of the White House with clean energy. He even provided a solar water heater for seven years, until the next President came along and removed these sources. 

However, the Jimmy Carter solar panel movement didn’t just include the White House. He made a commitment to research on renewable energy, increasing the Department of Energy’s budget. He also provided different tax credits and incentives for solar power users.

When the solar panels were installed, Carter said, “In the year 2000, this solar water heater behind me, which is being dedicated today, will still be here supplying cheap, efficient energy…. A generation from now, this solar heater can either be a curiosity, a museum piece, an example of a road not taken, or it can be just a small part of one of the greatest and most exciting adventures ever undertaken by the American people.”

Carter built a 32-panel state-of-the-art system that would heat the water of the presidential residence. He knew the benefits of solar and he wanted to make America more aware of the benefits of owning your own power.

When Did Solar Return to the White House? 

Believe it or not, after Jimmy Carter left office, it would take 17 years until solar returned. This happened with George W. Bush’s administration in 2003, when he had the first solar electric system installed. This energy system provided both electricity and hot water for the White House and its presidential pool. 

Then, in 2010, Barack Obama signed a bill to increase the budget and efforts for renewable energy. This included spending up to two billion dollars to make federal buildings more energy efficient. This also included executive actions to increase the incentives for implementing solar energy in residential properties. He focused on incentives for low income communities to create a better future for those areas. 

By 2013, a new solar panel system provided the White House with renewable energy. Obama wanted to take the pledge to waste less energy in cities, schools, businesses and the government. 

Even at 96 years old, Jimmy Carter still believes in the benefits of solar energy and has installed his own system in his home in Georgia. In fact, the energy he generates on 3,852 panels provides electricity for half of his town. Jimmy Carter believed and supported renewable energy; birthing the passion of companies like ONIT. 

Looking at 2021 standards, solar panels are on homes, buildings, and there are even solar power plants to supply cities with energy. 

jimmy carter

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The benefits to solar panels are endless! Luckily for you, having solar panels is easier than when Jimmy Carter was in office. For the last decade, ONIT offers the best products and services for customers. To find out more information on how you can put solar panels on your house, visit us online or give us a call at 1-833-433-0331. 

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