Yes, Jimmy Carter installed solar panels on the White House that Ronald Reagan later removed

In 1979, President Jimmy Carter installed solar panels at the White House. He was the first of three presidents to do so.

As solar panels continue to grow in popularity for U.S. homeowners, a viral Reddit post claims the sun once powered one of the most famous homes in the world. 

In early October, a Reddit user claimed former President Jimmy Carter unveiled solar panels on top of the White House during his administration, but they were later removed by former President Ronald Reagan. 

Google search data also show people are asking whether Carter put solar panels on the White House. 


Did President Jimmy Carter install solar panels on the White House that President Ronald Reagan later removed?



This is true.

Yes, President Jimmy Carter installed solar panels on the White House that President Ronald Reagan later removed.


President Jimmy Carter identified the environment as a priority issue during his 1976 presidential campaign and later worked to reform national energy policy while in office.

In 1977, amid natural gas shortages and unrest in the Middle East, Carter signed a law creating the U.S. Department of Energy. The government agency officially activated on Oct. 1 of that year. 

But Carter’s commitment to energy policy didn’t end there. In the summer of 1979, he had 32 solar panels installed on the roof of the West Wing of the White House, according to the National Museum of History and the White House Historical Association. The panels heated water at the White House until Carter’s successor, President Ronald Reagan, removed them in 1986 during the resurfacing of the White House roof

The solar panels remained in a government storage facility for about five years after Reagan removed them. 

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In 1991, the unused White House solar panels were moved from storage to Unity College in New Gloucester, Maine. The school refurbished 16 of the 32 panels and placed them on top of the school’s cafeteria where they were used to power the water heater.

Unity College says the panels were removed from the cafeteria roof in 2010 “when they reached their useful lifespan.” The college donated at least one of the solar panels to the National Museum of American History. 

Though Carter was the first U.S. president to install solar panels at the White House, two others followed suit. 

In 2002, during President George W. Bush’s administration, the National Park Service oversaw the installation of solar panels to power the White House’s central maintenance building. Solar power also warmed the president’s hot tub and outdoor swimming pool, the White House Historical Association said. 

President Barack Obama announced that he would install solar panels and a solar hot water heater on the White House in 2010, a plan that came to fruition nearly three years later in August 2013. 

VERIFY reached out to the White House for comment about whether solar panels are still installed on the building, but didn’t hear back at the time of publication. 

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