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The President Finally Installs Solar Hot Water…But It’s Not Obama

Finally, the President has installed a solar hot water system, but it’s not President Obama Bush libraryand it’s not on the White House. The president is actually George W. Bush, and the installation was recently completed on his new LEED-Platinum presidential library, which sits on 23 acres on the Southern Methodist University campus in Dallas, Texas.

Forty-eight evacuated tube collectors will pre-heat water feeding into a gas boiler system, helping to provide around 75% of the building’s hot water, according to a press release by the installer.

The installation and LEED-Platinum status is quite ironic for President Bush, who’s known more for his administration’s support of the oil and gas industry than his support for renewable energy.

Nevertheless, better late than never, and we could say the same to President Obama…again.

In 2010, Free Hot Water was part of a solar advocacy campaign to put solar thermal and solar PV back on top of the White House after President Reagan removed Jimmy Carter’s solar thermal panels.

We thought we’d won that solar campaign when then Energy Secretary Steven Chu announced that the White House would indeed install both solar PV and Solar Thermal on the White House. But three years later, there are still no solar PV or solar hot water panels installed on the White House.

In fact, President George W. Bush can be credited with an actual solar PV and solar thermal installation on the White House grounds. They were installed by the National Parks Service to help offset the outdoor lighting costs and pool heating costs of the White House swimming pool and hot tub. This was back in 2003, and the reason you didn’t hear about it is, of course, because Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheyney didn’t want to promote solar, but they did want to save taxpayers money.

Of course, Jimmy Carter famously installed 32 solar thermal panels on the roof of the actual White House, but they were then infamously taken down by President Reagan, and re-installed at Unity College in Maine, where they worked for another 20 years.

Given Mr. Obama’s recent speech on climate change action, isn’t it time he followed through with Sec. Chu’s announcement that they would be installed by the summer of 2011? As with President Carter during the 1970’s and early 80’s solar boom, doing so (with continued environmental policies) would be a huge boost for solar technologies and help people to consider solar for their homes and businesses.

Meanwhile, we congratulate George W. Bush for putting solar water heating on his presidential library.  Also, we’d like to thank President Clinton on his solar PV installation and we hope he’ll consider solar thermal one day, too.

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