In 1976, the Carter administration added a 32 solar panel array to the roof of the White House.

This was of the first instances in which the government publicly and strongly acknowledged the impact of climate change and actually made a positive action to combat it with clean energy sources. Unfortunately, in 1986 the Reagan administration removed the solar panels from the White House and placed them in a D.C. warehouse.

In this article, we will discuss the history of solar thermal panels being installed on the White House. Let’s get started!


History of Solar Panels on the White House

The demonstration of support on the White House grounds was not forgotten. However, as a small liberal arts school in Maine, Unity College, purchased the array in 1991. They then secured 16 panels into the roof of their dining building.

Another decade passed and NRG Systems, a top industry player in the field of solar, wind, and clean energy solutions, obtained a panel from the college and placed it aside for future use. In October, NRG proudly decided to display the solar panel at their LEED Gold-certified Vermont headquarters in Winesburg. It can be viewed at the main meeting space so visitors receive a strong reminder of the rich history of solar panels.


Solar Panels & the White House Today

While today’s federal government may not be as supportive of clean energy sources, the solar panel serves as a reminder that it is wise to continue to explore the many benefits of the solar industry.

Content Marketing Specialist for NRG, Brittany Good, explained that the display is inspiring to everyone who works at NRG and it reiterates the mission of the company. The company is quite pleased to pull the panel out of storage, and upon appointment is even willing to allow public to come view it.


Purpose of Solar Panels on the White House

Originally, the panel along with its other counterparts, was used to heat water at the White House Grounds to capture energy via the sun. Today most panels make use of photovoltaic technology and are able to convert energy from the sun much more efficiently. However, when the panels were installed by the federal government in 1979 they were groundbreaking examples of solar technology.

After hanging the solar panel, NRG wrote to 94-year-old Carter to thank him for his use of clean energy in the White House and let him know that they had his panel on display. He personally responded via a handwritten note that is now hanging next to the panel at the NRG office. His note praised NRG for their work with clean energy.

Hanging next to the note at NRG are photos of the president in 1979 when he dedicated the panels at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. While it has almost been four decades now, Good commented that the speech is still relevant and full of hope because it shows the impact that can be made when we accept the reality that climate change is affecting our world.


Future of Solar Panels & the White House

Good continued to explain that while it appears we have veered off the path of clean energy, it is inspiring to know that there are those that believe in the need for change. She added that ‘all hope is not lost’ and there are more sustainable paths open to those who are ready to capture energy in a more reasonable way. NRG Systems hopes to provide some of the solutions to those who are willing to listen.

In addition to NRG and Unity College, different panels from the original array are housed in the Washington DC at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History, in Dezhou, China at the Solar Science and Technology Museum, and in Atlanta, Georgia at the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library and Museum.

The panels support the need for clean energy at each of their various homes as President of NRG, Justin Wheating, explained that the panels prove just how ‘far renewables have come in the past 40 years.’ They are also a constant reminder that there is still a lot of work left to do to make the country more open to the idea of solar energy.

Wheating also commented that they are happy to have a piece of American history on display on their headquarters, and that it accentuates their vision for a sustainable future. He continued to say that NRG is focused on creating the tools needed to capture energy that will ensure global resource sustainability.


NRG Systems

NRG Systems was founded in 1982 as a wind power company, but has since then expanded and embraced many different sources of renewable energy. Over the last four decades the company has met the new challenges of climate change by moving into wind, solar, and another renewable energy marketplace. The global company has met sustainability goals within their own offices and installs its technology within the US and abroad in places as remote and urban as Saskatchewan and Yangshuo.


Anyone who wishes to see the panel at its home in Winesburg, is invited to contact NRG Systems to make an appointment.