The White House is going green

By Collegian News Staff

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Courtesy of Wikimedia

In a press conference on Tuesday, Energy Secretary Steven Chu announced that solar panels are to be installed on the rooftop of 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.

The solar panels, as well as a solar hot water heater, are set to be in place by spring of 2011.

The announcement was made at a conference with state and local, academic and non-profit representatives. The goal of the meeting was to identify how the Obama administration can improve sustainability efforts.

“Around the world, the White House is a symbol of freedom and democracy,” Chu said to those in attendance. “It should also be a symbol of America’s commitment to a clean energy future.”

Officials in the Department of Energy also highlighted the growth of the green energy industry and the available tax credits for citizens who install solar panels.

The planned panels will directly convert sunlight into electricity and the solar hot water heater will heat water for the White House with what administration officials referred to as a “solar collector.” The bidding process to select a company for the installations will begin immediately.

Obama is the third president to look to the sky for answers. In the 1970’s, Former President Jimmy Carter spent $30,000 on a solar water-heating system for offices in the West Wing. During George W. Bush’s time in office, solar systems were the main source of power for a maintenance building, and part of the main house.

This announcement comes less than a month after global warming activists of 350.org urged the President to install solar panels. The activists carried one of former President Carter’s solar panels, which were removed 24 years ago from Unity College in Maine to the capital to pressure the Obama administration to use alternative energy at the White House.

Founder of 350.org Bill McKibben, said in a statement on Tuesday that officials are taking steps in the right direction.

“If it has anything like the effect of the White House garden, it could be a trigger for a wave of solar installments across the country and around the world,” said McKibbean.

The cost of installation was not announced for the improvements in the White House, nor how much energy would be saved. It has been estimated by that 25-75 panels will be installed on the rooftop. Administrative officials expect solar panels to convert sunlight into 19,700 kilowatt hours of energy each year.

-Collegian News Staff-