• In 1979, President Jimmy Carter installed 32 solar panels on the roof of the White House to set an example for alternative energy sources. Seven years later, President Reagan had the solar panels removed, an action that angered many conservationists.


    The solar panels installed during the Carter administration heated water in the White House kitchen.


    Some critics claim that removing the solar panels was Reagan's first official action when he took office in 1981. The solar panels were not removed until 1986, when the White House roof was being repaired.


    In the late 1970s, the U.S. faced skyrocketing oil prices. By 1986, when Reagan had the solar panels removed, oil prices had plummeted to near-record lows, making solar energy and conservation low priorities.


    To Reagan's critics, the removal of the solar panels symbolized the administration's attitude toward energy conservation and the environment. The Reagan administration also allowed Carter-era solar energy tax credits and research subsidies to expire.

    Fun Fact

    Unity College in Maine acquired the former White House solar panels and used them to heat water in the school's dining hall for more than 10 years. A forthcoming documentary, "A Road Not Taken," tells the story of the solar panels.


    AP Wire: Maine College to Auction Off Former White House Solar Panels; 2004

    More Information:

    Smithsonian Acquires Former White House Solar Panel

    A Road Not Taken: the Story of the White House Solar Panels

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