Published on
Huffington Post

Getting Solar Panels Back on the White House

Jamie Henn

Should Sasha and Malia be studying by the light of a solar powered bulb?

Today, environmental author Bill McKibben and our international campaign are joining the solar company Sungevity in a new effort to encourage President Obama to reinstall an updated set of solar panels on the White House roof.

In 1979, President Carter installed solar panels on the roof of the White House only to have them taken down by Reagan a few years later. (Reagan also slashed subsidies for solar and now other nations dominate the industry).

People can sign onto a letter to Obama at the PutSolarOn.It website that just launched.

 "Panels on the White House will remind every visitor to Washington that every roof in America should have solar panels for electricity and hot water on them," said McKibben. "The President's panels will do as much good as the wonderful organic garden that the First Lady planted on the South Lawn."

Since Michelle planted her first seeds, the number of Americans with vegetable gardens has grown by 19%. McKibben and our team at hope that getting solar panels back up on the White House could help clean energy spread just as fast.

"Nothing replaces legislation that really cuts carbon, although last week's announcement of $2 billion in funding for solar projects is a good start" said McKibben. "One way to build support for those changes is to show how easy it is to start to work. It's time for President Obama to roll up his sleeves and get to work at his own home and in Congress."

The PutSolarOn.It campaign isn't focusing on just President Obama. Citizens can also send letters encouraging President Hu Jintao to add panels to the Great Hall of the People in Beijing or requesting Prime Minister David Cameron to retrofit the British Parliament.

The campaign's scoreboard has already checked off on one world leader: President Mohamed Nasheed, who recently committed to make the low-lying Maldives the first carbon neutral country, has already pledged to put up panels on his home.

At, we're working hard to walk our own clean energy talk. This October 10, 10/10/10, we're working with 10:10 campaign to host a Global Work Party, encouraging communities across the globe to get to work on climate solutions and celebrate a clean energy. Over 1,000 work parties are already registered in more than 100 countries.

Prime Minister Cameron has already committed to cut the UK government's emissions by 10% in 2010, the goal of the 10:10 campaign that's swept the UK. Getting panels up on the White House would be one way for President Obama to start catching up.

And what about those panels that used to be on top of the White House? After they were taken down, the bulk of them ended up on top of the cafeteria at Unity College in Maine. If President Obama doesn't get a new set, maybe we'll try and get the students to take the panels down and drive them back to the White House!

In the meantime, the public can keep up the heat by sending a letter through the PutSolarOn.It website.

Who knows, maybe before too long President Obama will be signing a new climate law by the light of a solar powered bulb?

This is the world we live in. This is the world we cover.

Because of people like you, another world is possible. There are many battles to be won, but we will battle them together—all of us. Common Dreams is not your normal news site. We don't survive on clicks. We don't want advertising dollars. We want the world to be a better place. But we can't do it alone. It doesn't work that way. We need you. If you can help today—because every gift of every size matters—please do. Without Your Support We Simply Won't Exist.

Jamie Henn is the Communications and East Asia Director for the international climate campaign

Share This Article

More in: