Jason Hartke

This summer news is as refreshing as an Arnold Palmer. For the first time in eight presidential terms (that’s 32 years, but who’s counting?), solar panels will be back on the roof of the White House. According to reports, installation began last week.

The energy-saving move was green-lit, so to speak, three years ago as part of a broader White House energy retrofit effort. Energy Secretary Steven Chu made the announcement in 2010 at the GreenGov Symposium, a now defunct event that was once hosted annually by the White House Council on Environmental Quality. “The White House will lead by example,” Chu said at the time of the announcement. “There will be solar panels that convert sunlight into electricity and a solar hot water heater on the roof of the White House.” 

Of course, President Carter had been the first and last president to have solar panels on the roof of the first family’s residence. President Reagan had them removed in 1986. Solar returned to the grounds of the White House under President George W. Bush in 2003 with the addition of a solar system on a maintenance building to help heat the swimming pool.