Despite Delay, Officials Say White House Solar Panels Soon to Arrive
No roof – even the one over the President’s head – should be left unturned: all American homes that meet the basic solar requirements should have solar arrays. That’s what we at EcoOutfitters.net believe.
Steven Chu, Secretary of Energy, committed the White House to lead by example last October: at that time, he announced that the President’s roof would have solar PV and a solar hot water system by the end of spring.
According to Chu, “The project will show that American solar technology is available, reliable, and ready to install in homes throughout the country. Around the world, the White House is a symbol of freedom and democracy. It should also be a symbol of America’s commitment to a clean energy future.”
This February, in yet another demonstration of the Administration’s commitment to clean energy, the Department of Energy revealed details about their SunShot initiative, an effort to bring the cost of solar energy systems down to approximately $1/watt (a 75 percent decrease) by the year 2020. Should this effort be successful, solar energy would be more cost competitive with fossil fuel electricity, which would be quite an amazing feat. The White House solar project was included in this initiative.
But as spring came and went with no sign of progress, EcoOutfitters took action, sending a letter to President Obama offering our support and assistance towards accomplishing this worthy goal.
The Department of Energy did respond, stating that the bidding process was underway and selections would soon be made. Although the update was encouraging, we had hoped for more details regarding the scope of work, number of bidders, schedule, and other specifics.
Thus began a dialogue between EcoOutfitters and White House officials, thanks to assistance from policy specialists with SEIA (Solar Energy Industries Association); to date, DOE representatives have confirmed that the procurement process has run for the White House solar PV and solar hot water systems, and exclusive invitations to eligible contractors (only those registered on the General Services Administration list) have been sent.
Accordingly, the administration is reaching out to the nearly 40 solar companies on the GSA schedule, pushing for a near-term launch of the project (as the application process has been closed).
While we are grateful for this move forward, we feel that speculation and the appearance of broken promises could have been avoided had the White House better communicated this process to the public and interested stakeholders.
At EcoOutfitters, we are hopeful that the balance of the process will be open, fair, and fully transparent, and that, despite passing the spring deadline, the White House roof will soon be transformed by solar.