Jimmy Carter was way ahead of the rest of America when he put solar panels on the White House. On June 20, 1979, he made a proud proclamation:
In the year 2000 this solar water heater behind me, which is being dedicated today, will still be here supplying cheap, efficient energy…. A generation from now, this solar heater can either be a curiosity, a museum piece, an example of a road not taken or it can be just a small part of one of the greatest and most exciting adventures ever undertaken by the American people.
The 32-panel system was designed to heat water throughout the presidential residence.
“President Carter saw [solar] as a really valid energy resource, and he understood it. I mean, it is a domestic resource and it is huge,” Fred Morse, director of Carter’s solar energy program, told Scientific American.
“It was the symbolism of the president wanting to bring solar energy immediately into his administration,” he continued.
Unfortunately, Ronald Reagan, who was no fan of alternative energy took the panels down form the White House when he took office a few years later.