Vantage Points

On July 7th, 2015 President Obama announced an initiative to cut energy costs for low and middle-income families in the US, while simultaneously fighting climate change.  He continued that this new initiative would help in funding and access to solar power for residents across the nation.

This announcement didn’t come as much of a surprise to many as Obama has been forward about his opinions of the benefits of solar energy since the beginning of his presidency.  In 2010 the president announced that the White House would be installing Photovoltaic solar panels that convert sunlight directly to electricity.  A solar hot water heater was also installed to supply the hot water to residential areas of the White House.   According to the Associated Press, administrative officials report that the panels will save the typical Washington D.C.-area household $2,300 on its electricity bill and the solar hot water heater could save $1,000/year.  President Obama is not the first to take advantage of alternate energy for the capital.

A History of Solar Panels at the White House


1979: President Carter had 32 panels installed at the White House.

1981: President Reagan ordered the removal of solar panels and they were taken off in 1986 during scheduled construction being done in that area of the roof.

1992: Half of the solar panels once installed at the White House were re-installed at Maine’s Unity College, according to the Scientific American.  They were used to warm water throughout the year.

2009: The Clean Energy & Security Act aimed at curbing emissions and stimulating clean energy passes in the House of Representatives but is turned down by the Senate. This was the first proposed legislation of its time.

More About Obama’s Solar Initiative

President Obama gives a speech in front of a Solar Energy Farm, his administration recently put forth legislation to greatly expand solar energy in America.

President Obama gives a speech in front of a Solar Energy Farm, his administration recently put forth legislation to greatly expand solar energy in America.

Obama’s renewed initiative would triple capacity of solar and other renewable energy systems it installs in federally subsidized housing by 2020.  Part of this plan will make it easier for homeowners to borrow money for solar improvements (up to $25,000) and start a nationwide program to help renters gain access to solar energy.  More than $520 million has been promised for the project by investors, charities and city/state government to pay for the solar and energy efficient projects for lower-income communities.

Housing authorities and utilities will start 260 solar power projects across 20 states, hopefully creating 75,000 solar industry jobs  by 2020.  Last year, the industry added jobs 10x faster than the rest of the economy.

Use of solar power has increased rapidly and total cost of having a system has been cut in half since 2010.  Increasing solar energy use means decreased costs for energy use and a healthier environment.  President Obama and Brazilian President Dilma Rouseff jointly pledged to increase renewable energy use (excluding hydropower) to 20% of total energy mix for both countries.