One of the best know stories of solar power — a true story — is how, in 1986, Ronald Reagan had the solar hot water panels taken off the White House roof. Panels that Jimmy Carter had had installed.Â This was a symbolic culmination of the cut-off of tax incentives and drastic cut-backs in research support to solar that devastating America’s leading position in the solar industry.
Well, another symbolic act might occur in Washington come Fiscal Year 2008.
Â H.R. 798 directs the General Services Administration to install a photovoltaic (PV) system at the Energy Departmentâ€™s headquarters that will convert solar energy into electricity. This project, known as Solar Net, consists of a 300 foot long, 130 foot high curtain of solar panels that convert energy from the sun into electricity.
This is a sign of the changing times with Democratic control of the Congress. The Committee Chair, James Oberstar (D-MN), “has long been an advocate for investing in fitting federal buildings with solar energy systems.”
â€œThe Federal government should play a central role in encouraging innovation in developing new sources of energy. The Solar Net project is a reasonable, practical and simple alternative to traditional electricity sources,â€ said Rep. Oberstar. â€œIt is only fitting that the Energy Department be at the cutting edge of utilizing and supporting applied research in alternative energy sources.â€
First DOE, next the White House?