Is Obama Reneging on Vow to Use Solar Power at White House?

By Pete Winn | June 15, 2011 | 4:30 PM EDT

U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu and Nancy Sutley, chairwoman of the White House Council on Environmental Quality, announce plan to place solar panels on roof of White House by Spring 2011. (Photo courtesy of White House/GWU.)

( - It’s almost summer and green groups want to know: Where are the solar panels on the roof of the White House promised by the Obama administration?

On Oct. 5, 2010, Energy Secretary Steven Chu and Nancy Sutley, chairwoman of the White House Council on Environmental Quality, announced a plan to place solar panels and a solar hot water heater on the White House “by the end of spring” in 2011.

"I am pleased to announce that by the end of this spring, there will be solar panels that convert sunlight into electricity and a solar hot water heater on the roof of the White House," Chu said at the 2010 GreenGov Symposium held at the George Washington University in Washington, D.C.

"This project reflects President Obama’s strong commitment to U.S. leadership in solar energy and the jobs it will create here at home," Chu said. "Deploying solar energy technologies across the country will help America lead the global economy for years to come."

Sutley even said the administration wanted to make a point with the installation.

“By installing solar panels on arguably the most famous house in the country, his residence, the president is underscoring that commitment to lead and the promise and importance of renewable energy in the United States," Sutley said.

Secretary Chu Announces Solar Panels on White House at GreenGov Symposium from Center for Innovative Media on Vimeo.

But spring ends -- and summer officially begins -- on Tuesday, June 21, at 1:16 p.m. EDT. Where are the panels?

None have yet been installed, according to environmentalists, who want to know why – and have launched an online campaign to get the Obama administration to live up to its commitment. In fact, one group, calling itself has apparently attracted 20,000 names on petitions to the White House.

The White House did not respond to calls from for comment.

If Obama did place solar panels on the roof, it would not be the first time they have been there. In 1979, President Jimmy Carter ordered a handful of the panels placed there. In 1986, President Reagan had them removed. In 1991, the solar panels removed from the White House were donated to Unity College, a college with an environmental curriculum based in Maine.

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