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The White House goes solar

Installation of solar panels on the White House, which intends to promote new energy initiatives, was completed on May 9.
Installation of solar panels on the White House, which intends to promote new energy initiatives, was completed on May 9.
Wikimedia and The White House

Following a promise made by President Obama in 2010, installation of solar panels on the White House was completed on May 9. The president told of the completion while speaking from a Mountain View, California location of Wal-Mart, which also announced plans to double the number of solar projects at its locations by 2020.

While the White House project is expected to pay for itself within eight years, cost reduction wasn’t the only goal behind the project, Obama said. “There are cost-effective ways to tackle climate change and create jobs at the same time.”

The project, the president said, is a symbolic precedent to new solar energy initiatives, which will include financial aid to alternate energy businesses, training of a solar power workforce, and new energy-saving building codes. "Cities, schools, businesses, the federal government -- we're all going to pledge to waste less energy and we've got concrete strategies that we know work," Obama said. The new initiatives have goals of generating 850 million megawatts of solar energy, enough to power 130,000 homes.

Republicans were quick to make opposing statements, though. Brendan Buck, spokesperson for House Speaker John Boehner, told USA Today that Obama should devote more time and money to oil and coal, and less time on alternate energy. The president is apparently unfazed by GOP opposition to the program, however, and today stated there are “some climate deniers who shout loud, but they’re wasting everybody’s time on a settled debate. Climate change is a fact.”

The American-made panels now featured on the White House are expected to generate 6.3 kilowatts of solar power, White House spokesman Matt Lehrich said; that’s about two-thirds the energy needed to power a single-residence home, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

Today’s new panels aren’t the first ones that ever decorated the White House, however. President Jimmy Carter had some installed in 1979, but Ronald Reagan ordered the panels removed shortly after assuming the office in 1981. The White House has been absent of solar panels since 1986.

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