January 22nd, 2009 | Published in Google Public Policy
(Cross-posted from the Official Google Blog)
In 1979 President Jimmy Carter installed 32 solar hot water panels on the roof of the White House. Recently a Googler from our Washington D.C. office asked the question, "What ever happened to the Carter panels?" After a little digging, we were able to track down the original panels to Unity College, an environmental college in Maine, and bring one of them back to Washington D.C.
So what ever happened to the panels? It turns out that during President Reagan's administration the solar hot water panels were removed from the White House in 1986 and placed in storage. In 1992, Unity College located the panels and transferred them from a General Services Administration warehouse to their campus in Maine. After restoration,16 panels provided their cafeteria with hot water for the next 12 years. In cooperation with Unity College, Google was able to bring one of these panels down to our Washington DC office for display throughout the next year.
At the panels' dedication in 1979, Jimmy Carter stated:
"This dependence on foreign sources of oil is of great concern to all of us. In the year 2000, this solar water heater behind me, which is being dedicated today, will still be here supplying cheap, efficient energy. A generation from now, this solar heater can either be a curiosity, a museum piece, an example of a road not taken, or it can be just a small part of one of the greatest and most exciting adventures ever undertaken by the American people." (To watch video of the dedication, check out this trailer for a movie about the panels).
As we welcome our new U.S. president to office this week, we wanted to share this piece of this history with you. Google is committed to a clean energy future and we hope that you will join us in supporting the creation and adoption of renewable energy technology — what could still be one of the greatest and most exciting adventures for all of us.
Check out these photos of the panels at Unity College and at Google's Washington DC office.