Decades-Long Passive-Aggressive Dispute Over White House Solar Panels Continues

In this June 20, 1979, file photo President Jimmy Carter, center, is surrounded by reporters and photographers as he inspected new White House solar hot water heating system located on the roof of the West Wing of the mansion, over the Cabinet Room.
Jimmy Carter shows off his new solar panels, which he was confident would remain in place forever unless some kind of spiteful monster was elected president. Photo: Harvey Georges/Corbis

In 1979, Jimmy Carter had a series of 32 solar panels installed on the roof of the White House’s West Wing, with the hope that, someday in the future, they would be seen as “a small part of one of the greatest and most exciting adventures ever undertaken by the American people.” In 1986, while Ronald Reagan was president, the solar panels were “removed … to repair a roof leak and were never reinstalled,” because renewable energy is for pussies.

But this week, 27 years later, the panels (well, different panels) are quietly returning to the roof of the West Wing. And considering how broadly popular the concept of alternative energy has become, that’s probably where they’ll stay forever, unless Republicans manage to reanimate Ronald Reagan, which, you can be sure, they are trying. 

Obama Returns Solar Panels to White House Roof