White House solar panels taking "longer than expected"
Solar panels at Pocono International Raceway. (Jeremy Harlan/CNN)
October 14th, 2011
03:38 PM ET

White House solar panels taking "longer than expected"

On October 5, 2010 Energy Secretary Steven Chu and Council of Environmental Quality Chairwoman Nancy Sutley announced a plan to install solar panels and a solar water heater on the roof of the White House. In a statement, the two called the installation a "demonstration project showing that American solar technologies are available, reliable, and ready for installation in homes throughout the country. "

"This project reflects President Obama’s strong commitment to U.S. leadership in solar energy and the jobs it will create here at home," Secretary Chu said in the statement.

Sutley said, "By installing solar panels on arguably the most famous house in the country, his residence, the President is underscoring that commitment to lead and the promise and importance of renewable energy in the United States."

But over a year later, the projects are still in the works. According to a Department of Energy spokesperson, the department is "still working through the procurement process, which has taken longer than expected given the nature of the project.  We hope to have the project completed as soon as possible."

It's unclear what exactly is slowing the procurement process down, but the length of the installation process surely doesn't inspire confidence that "solar technologies are available, reliable, and ready for installation in homes throughout the country."

Topics: Energy • White House

soundoff (49 Responses)
  1. Dean

    Obama is shovel ready.

    October 14, 2011 at 3:51 pm |
    • Trace

      @ Dean,
      Grow-up or head back down to your mother's basement. We need serious conversation, by serious people. Not Faux News (not actually factual spew) bumper sticker crapola, from you and the rest of the braindead corporate lemmings of the GOP/Tea Pee Pants party

      October 14, 2011 at 8:17 pm |
      • Kyle


        "GOP/Tea Pee Pants party". Yes, that is much more serious conversation. Thank you for your example.

        October 15, 2011 at 11:07 am |
      • Sonia

        Actually, PV panels are iidbecnrly cheap right now.The only reason they appear expensive is when compared agaist fossil fuels, like oil, which are already becoming MUCH more expensive, and which will continue to do so for many, many year.Buy PV now, or kick yourself for not doing so later.

        August 2, 2012 at 12:37 am |
  2. History will repeat itself

    Carter said let there be solar panels on the White house, and there were solar panels on the White house. Reagan said let there be coal and oil, and Carter's solar panels disappeared. Obama says let there be solar and the next Republican will surely say let there be meth.......................ane.

    October 14, 2011 at 3:57 pm |
    • Jay in NC

      Carter installed solar water heaters, not photo-voltaic panels.
      Maybe The White House ordered them from Solyndra.

      October 14, 2011 at 4:42 pm |
    • Jean Sartre Milwaukee, WI


      Now everone knows EXACTLY where the Republic Party/Pee Baggers stand on the environment...

      October 14, 2011 at 5:27 pm |
    • Jay in NC

      Since September 2002, a grid of 167 solar panels on the roof of a maintenance shed has been delivering electricity to the White House grounds. Another solar installation has been helping to provide hot water. Yet another has been heating the water in the presidential pool.

      Jan. 2003 – an additional 9 kW photovoltaic (PV) system was installed at the White House.

      I guess you Liberals owe President Bush an apology.


      October 15, 2011 at 10:14 am |
      • jean2009


        October 15, 2011 at 6:47 pm |
      • Jay in NC

        Now you are quoting Fox News as a reliable source? I will have to remember this the next time you call them Faux News.

        October 15, 2011 at 10:57 pm |
      • jean2009

        I didn't say they were always reliable only that they printed something which disagrees with you, and agrees with the administration.. Even pure idiots should see the benefits of our going green.

        October 16, 2011 at 3:18 pm |
      • Jay in NC

        Jean, how does the article disagree with me? I was answering 'History will repeat itself' that said that Republicans would take out any solar panels that Barry installed.

        President Reagan did remove the panels that Carter had installed, After 9 years (1977-1986) the panels needed updating. President Bush installed new water panels during his term. Clinton did nothing. President Bush 2nd installed new Water system, and two PV (that is for electric) systems.

        So many of you Liberals just do not want to face the truth. The idea that a Republican president would install solar just does not fit your stereo type agenda. Give credit where credit is due. President Bush (both) did the right thing. President Barry on the other hand has done nothing on this issue.

        October 16, 2011 at 4:11 pm |
  3. Dean

    Solar panels are great. Now if people just had jobs so they could buy some of them.

    October 14, 2011 at 4:01 pm |
    • BobnLA

      Are you unemployed? with all the talk of the unemployed how about the 89% that are working?
      We complain about Wall st but spend hundreds of dollars to go to a sporting even. We support movies that cost 100's of millions to make, athletes paid 10's of millions to play games . There doesn't seem to a shortage of people on airplanes or going on vacation ( I'm a travel agent, I know!). Yes we need more jobs, but the bottom line is cable companies still have clients, cell phones are everywhere and the new I-phone just broke sales records. Things are not nearly as bad as we or the press make them. this is not the 1930's by any means.

      October 14, 2011 at 4:24 pm |
      • Bob

        You're a travel agent? I'm surprised you still have a job. I didn't think anybody actually used a travel agent anymore.

        October 14, 2011 at 5:32 pm |
      • If I had a penny for every stupid Republican

        Thank the Supreme Deity that it is not the 1930's. However, we are running unemployment numbers that are double what are normally seen.

        October 16, 2011 at 1:02 am |
  4. Dean

    Two different Deans.

    October 14, 2011 at 4:01 pm |
  5. Lisa P

    Home improvement projects are always a pain in the butt, even for the leader of the free world... 😛

    October 14, 2011 at 4:09 pm |
    • Bob

      It doesn't matter if the solar panels get installed or not. Just more talk from Obama and the democrats. Saying they were installing panels is good enough for them. Let's move on and use smoke and mirrors on the next issue...like job creation.

      October 14, 2011 at 5:35 pm |
      • Trace

        You are hilarious...To bad you are so innane that you can't recoginize that Obama is the only one trying to do anything about unemployment. GEESH...I guess that out-house you live in doesn't have cable or direct TV.

        Here's a little news for you; THE GOP/TEA PEE PANTS PEOPLE IN THE HOUSE WON'T EVEN BRING THE ONLY BILL FOR JOBS TO THE FLOOR. Now don't feel as silly as you sound(?)

        October 14, 2011 at 8:22 pm |
      • unretired05

        You mean like when Bhoener talked about the loss of jobs from his budget cuts and he said "So be it." Or when he said jobs were the #1 concern, until after the election.

        October 14, 2011 at 11:11 pm |
      • 57nomad

        This is for trace who said:

        "THE HOUSE WON'T EVEN BRING THE ONLY BILL FOR JOBS TO THE FLOOR. Now don't feel as silly as you sound(?)"

        Really? First of all, where did you get the idea that Obama's tired class warfare bill is going to create any jobs? He hasn't created any in three years using the same tired statist tactics, why should it start to work now all of a sudden?

        Second, and more comical. Trace, pussycat, you do know that there are two houses of congress, don't you? The Republicans control the House of Representatives but the president's party, the democrats, control the Senate. So, lets rephrase your comment, why did it take 2 months for the democrat controlled Senate to bring it to the floor? Plus, they didn't even bring Obama's bill up for a vote just a reworked part of it. Guess what? It got voted down in the Senate, which is controlled by the Democrats, 53-47.

        Why is the racist, Cain hating, obstructionist democrat party standing in the way of the president's jobs bill? I'll tell you why, all you have to do is take a look at the Senate democrats, all white. That tells you all you need to know. The democrats are racists who cannot stand their party being led by a good looking, intelligent, educated, articulate black man of color and they are trying to destroy him and put in a former KKK guy like Robert Byrd who they are a lot more comfortable with.

        October 15, 2011 at 3:19 pm |
      • If I had a penny for every stupid Republican

        Thank the Tea Party members of Congress for the lack of action to improve the economy. Even the Tan Man wanted to work with the president, but he couldn't because his caucus would not support the package.

        We can all agree that the federal government is spending beyond its means, but the Republitcans are offering nothing that will help get these deficits under control. As long as we have a mentality of no regulation, unlimited funding of the military, and tax breaks for the rich it will only get worse. America was once great country. At some point if things don't turn around even the rich will start to feel the effects of being a second rate country. We've begun to see the unwinding of that legacy and if we don't wake up soon it will be too late to reverse the slide.

        October 16, 2011 at 1:15 am |
  6. Paul T

    Perhaps he can use some of those Solyndra-made panel systems, since the government owns them already and it won't cost the taxpayers another dime. Two birds, one stone.

    October 14, 2011 at 4:41 pm |
    • Lisa P

      Do the Feds have an ownership stake in Solyndra? Because that would be awesome - apparently their process is very good, which would make their patents quite valuable. As I understand it the founders just had no talent (or luck) with the business/production end of things.

      October 14, 2011 at 5:20 pm |
      • Paul T

        Considering Solyndra owes the government towards $538 million in loans, the normal response to recoup part of that debt is liquidating the company's assets- which include a warehouse full of Solyndra systems.

        Take the taxpayer's fair share from the company assets as part of the liquidation process and put it to use. It'd be at least mildy amusing to see a portion of that boondoggle going to good use on the White House.

        October 14, 2011 at 5:32 pm |
  7. Thomas

    I hope you get them up , the Gop will take them down , just like Reagan did !

    October 14, 2011 at 4:55 pm |
    • Paul T

      So what you're saying is that an effort towards making America more energy-independant would be stripped from the White House because Obama did it, instead of a Republican? Heck, reducing our dependence on outside energy is a huge plank in the GOP platform!

      October 14, 2011 at 5:34 pm |
      • ARTraveler

        The GOP's plan is to drill everywhere, except the coast of Florida, of course, The amount of oil available anywhere in the world is decreasing and we can either start working on alternatives or be paying $8-10 /gallon for gas. Mendeleev was right over 100 years ago, oil is too valuabkle to be burned. Without petroleum, no plastics, fertilizer, or paints as well as roadways but we continue to burn 85% of all we get. The Rethuglican energy concept is as stilted as their science policy. You can hide your head in the sand but all that gets you is sandy hair!

        October 14, 2011 at 5:58 pm |
      • Jean Sartre Milwaukee, WI

        "outside energy"... YES!

        Renewable GREEN, non-fossil fuel: HELL NO!

        The GOP worships OIL!

        October 14, 2011 at 6:08 pm |
      • Trace

        @Paul T, ....wow...we are talking totally incoherent with your posts. You actually think energy independence is a plank in the GOP platform(?) You ever heard of Enron? Wasn't that an energy company that lost share holders billions" Um..Um ...Duh. Every heard of the cost for us to tell Saddam Hussein "what's our oil doing under Iraqi sand?" We spent $3 trillion on that boon doggle and its now a direct subsidiary of Iran.

        Smart and intelligent definitely is not a plank in the GOP / Tea Pee Pants platform. Misguided and failure seems more apt.

        October 14, 2011 at 8:28 pm |
  8. Jean Sartre Milwaukee, WI

    Because of people like W, who believe in and are married to the oil companies, we are so far behind in Solar Panel Technology that it is virtually impossible to catch up, the same goes for Bio-Tech and a few other areas as well! China makes these panels at about 1/10th the cost that we do, so it is hard to compete with that, even if we have better technology.

    The fact tat Carter put Solar Panels on the White House and Reagan pulled them off, in the 1980's, speaks volumes about our lack of any coherent energy policy.

    Besides, most other developed countries have their GOVERNMENT both subsidize and partner with companies on GREEN JOBS & TECHNOLOGY...

    We have a mind set that does not allow much of that at any meaningful level and a poulation that is too stupid, in part because they have been propgandized by the oil companies into believing that they should just drill up all of the land in America and their energy problems would all be solved. Never mind that the combustion engine is grossly inefficient, out-of-date, and both a relic and a symbol of how truly backward we really are as we rush forward to destroy all life on planet earth...

    October 14, 2011 at 6:02 pm |
    • Jay in NC

      Jan. 8, 2003–Evergreen Solar, Inc. installed a 9 kW photovoltaic (PV) system at the White House. I guess you Liberals owe President Bush an apology.


      October 15, 2011 at 10:08 am |
      • jean2009

        The Three Trillion Dollar War: The True Cost of the Iraq Conflict by Joseph E. Stiglitz and Linda J. Bilmes. New York: W. W. Norton and Company. 2008. Hardcover: ISBN 978 0 393 06701 9, $???. 192 pages.

        Without all the added information.

        October 16, 2011 at 3:21 pm |
  9. tj66

    Taking longer then expected – let me guess, they'll end up costing more than expected too. Hey, it's not like it's their money – the sky is the limit!

    October 15, 2011 at 12:01 am |
  10. FedUp

    It also shows his strong commitment to spend every dollar the IRS can drum up.

    October 15, 2011 at 10:13 am |
  11. The Shunned Pundit

    WTF??/ People here are actually blaming BUSH? LMAO.

    October 15, 2011 at 12:56 pm |
    • Bill in STL

      either GW or RR ... Jean can't make up her mind....

      October 16, 2011 at 8:08 pm |
  12. 57nomad

    Brilliant! Don't worry everybody, we'll have those babies installed just in time for winter.

    October 15, 2011 at 1:55 pm |
  13. Dreamer96

    From last paragraph in story; but the length of the installation process surely doesn't inspire confidence that "solar technologies are available, reliable, and ready for installation in homes throughout the country."

    Just how many White Houses do we have in the whole country? Hope they are anti-glare coated...do not want a glare in the helicopters pilots face on approach to land on the lawn..Just thought I'd mention that..Yeah you guys already thought of that right?..

    October 15, 2011 at 7:36 pm |
  14. If I had a penny for every stupid Republican

    Did they order them from Solyndra?

    October 16, 2011 at 12:57 am |
    • Former Solar Panel User

      I'd be richer if I had penny for every stupid Democrat, after all there are more registered Dems then Repubs.

      October 16, 2011 at 12:32 pm |
  15. Former Solar Panel User

    Having tried solar I found that in order to get the maximum amperage out of the panels they had to be as close to perpendicular to the sun as possible.....ALWAYS. I guess you could stand outside and rotate them all day as the earth rotates around the sun. Unfortunately they don't work at night. I sold the panels and went to using a wind generator, works at night, aligns itself to the prevailing wind and if the wind blows you are generating electricity...plus I found the payback to be shorter.

    October 16, 2011 at 12:27 pm |
    • Ukulelemike

      Actually, they manufacture fairly inexpensive rack systems that use gas cylinders to automatically rotate the panels to face the sun at all times. I have one, and it even works when its cloudy. We also use wind power, and plan to expand that, since we live in an extremely windy area in NE California.
      And I am a conservative, and believe that producing my own power, thus keeping off the grid, is the ultimate expression of freedom, life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. I have my own well, a nice garden, goats and sheep for meat, milk, and wool. No traffic cameras to bother me, out in the desert living the dream!

      November 18, 2011 at 4:37 pm |
  16. Ian

    Good to see that it's finally coming into play. For those who only rely on solar power remember it's only a Part of the solution not the only part. wind, solar, bio diesel etc. will be the many cogs in the wheel. http://yourgogreensource.com/blog

    January 23, 2012 at 9:25 pm |
    • Ukulelemike

      As well, we need to look into Tesla's earth battery. I am working on it currently, (no pun intended) at my farm.

      January 24, 2012 at 2:37 pm |
    • Rahim

      depends on your power company's potilics about this issue. in general, they wouldn't be happy to loose a lot of moeny on you. don't forget that you need a lots of money to set it up in first place. PV panels aren't cheap, yet, just cause the same reason, nobody wants you to have free power.

      July 31, 2012 at 2:09 pm |
  17. EIC

    If you want to see that the solar panels are put back on the white house, sign this petition: http://www.change.org/petitions/president-obama-put-solar-panels-back-onto-the-roof-of-the-white-house

    February 10, 2012 at 8:43 pm |
  18. Haya

    The question was: are they rteome controlled ?These model solar cars run on a thin fishing line, pulled extremely tight, and stretched about 3 mm above the track for about 20 m.Most cars use a single small eyelet, or a double eyelet (reversed from each other) near the front axle to keep the car on course. The single eyelet doesn't always do it (see video).

    August 2, 2012 at 12:02 am |