by Michael dEstries
Categories: Internet
Tags: .


Back in 1979, President Jimmy Carter did the unthinkable: He installed solar panels on top of the White House. The green addition was used to heat water for the staff eating era — and usher in a new era in American innovation and independence from foreign fossil fuels.

Of course, that never happened — Regan had them taken down during a roof repair in the 80s. The panels were then thrown into storage until actress Glen Close (of course!) helped Unity College secure them to heat hot water for their cafeteria. Then, as we reported last year, the panels were decommissioned and one of them had a starring role in the documentary A Road Not Taken. That panel eventually found its way to the Jimmy Carter Library & Museum in Atlanta.

Now, Google is saying they’ve got one of the legendary 32 in their Washington, DC office. From their blog,

In 1979 President Jimmy Carter installed 32 solar hot water panels on the roof of the White House. Recently a Googler from our Washington D.C. office asked the question, “What ever happened to the Carter panels?” After a little digging, we were able to track down the original panels to Unity College, an environmental college in Maine, and bring one of them back to Washington D.C.

So there we have it! These things are becoming as popular (and possibly magical) as the sacred crystal skulls.

About Michael dEstries

Michael has been blogging since 2005 on issues such as sustainability, renewable energy, philanthropy, and healthy living. He regularly contributes to a slew of publications, as well as consulting with companies looking to make an impact using the web and social media. He lives in Ithaca, NY with his family on an apple farm.

View all posts by Michael dEstries →
  • Erin

    Jimmy Carter is a legend and a great man. How appropos Reagan would have it taken down. Kind of like he cut all the solar programs Carter had implemented when he got in the White House. I hope, at some point in history, they’ll actually admit all the atrocities that Ray-Gun committed.

    As a little girl in Indiana I watched them put solar panels up at my next door neighbor’s house. They were one of the ones in the program and basically paid no utility bills. It was awesome.
    I was fortunate enough to grow up from just after the age I could talk knowing what they were (one of my first words was solar I was told because I always pointed up at the huge panels (that actually stood up on the two story house – much higher than ANYthing else in the area)

    Ah Carter left with a surplus, then Reagan came in and eight years later terrible deficit.

    Kinda like from Clinton to G Worst Bush… Such a shame.

    Let’s hope Obama makes it right.


  • VeggieTart

    Maybe Obama can put some new ones on.

    BTW, it’s Glenn Close, with two n’s.

  • e

    I didn’t even catch that up above. Good eye Veggie tart ;) must be all those carrots you eat! :)

    Peace have a gurreaeat weekend everyone


  • greenie

    So, tell me more about Unity College?