Last October, after a campaign led by 350.org, the Obama Administration committed to installing a new set of solar panels on the White House roof by the end of Spring 2011. With ten days until June 21st, the final day of spring, the roof is still bare.
Last fall, 350.org rescued a solar panel that President Carter installed on the White House roof (only to have it removed by President Reagan) from its exile at Unity College in Maine and drove it back to the White House with a request that Obama install a new set.
The administration refused at first, but a month later Secretary of Energy Chu said at a conference, “I’m pleased to announce that, by the end of this spring, there will be solar panels and a solar hot water heater on the roof of the White House.”
We know all the press coverage and the over 40,000 of you that signed our original petition made a real impact last fall. Now, we need to show the administration that we won’t let them off the hook.
Our staff is going to be on the phone with the White House and Department of Energy this week, but they won’t pay any attention to us if they think the public doesn’t care about the installation.
When we asked President Mohamed Nasheed of the Maldives to install a new set of solar panels on the roof of his presidential residence, he got up there just a few weeks later and helped install the 48 new panels himself. So, we’re confident that if the White House decided that showing support for renewable energy was a priority they could have the panels up by June 21st, the first day of summer.
After all, a little home improvement isn’t nearly as complicated as bailing out the banks or saving the auto industry. And according to our friends at Sungevity, the cost of the installation would be earned back with savings on the electric bill in the first five years, so an installation makes fiscal sense, as well.
We don’t need President Obama to put on a tool-belt and climb the roof like President Nasheed, but we do need him to start leading on climate and energy. Putting up a new set of solar panels is no replacement for an ambitious climate policy, but it would be an important sign that the administration acknowledges it needs to do more to support clean energy.
P.S. This is a situation where a large, public groundswell can really tip the balance, so we need to spread the word far and wide. Can you share the message with a couple of clicks on Facebook and Twitter?