Last fall, thousands of youth climate activists called on President Obama to restore solar to the White House, removed 20 years ago by Ronald Reagan. In October, Secretary of Energy Steven Chu announced 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.” Today, with less than 24 hours before the summer solstice, Ramamoorthy Ramesh announced that the date of White House solar installation won’t even be publicly decided until September at the earliest, based on the timeline for the DOE’s Rooftop Solar Challenge:
The Energy Department remains on the path to complete the White House solar demonstration project, in keeping with our commitment, and we look forward to sharing more information — including additional details on the timing of this project — after the competitive procurement process is completed.
The Rooftop Solar Challenge, part of the Department of Energy Sunshot Initiative to accelerate the deployment of solar technologies, is designed to encourage local and regional governments to improve market conditions for rooftop solar installations. The Sunshot Initiative program was only announced in April of this year, and the final date for submissions to the rooftop challenge is August 31. There is no date established for when the “competitive procurement process” is to be completed.
Although the work being done by Ramesh, one of the nation’s top solar-power scientists, as the head of the Sunshot Initiative, is crucial, tying the White House demonstration solar installations to this program is a transparent excuse for a broken pledge.
The threat of our polluted climate and the urgency of rebuilding our economy with clean technology should be the Obama administration’s paramount concern. Their deferral of a commitment made to our nation’s youth in the midst of this crisis is a grave disappointment.