At EcoOutfitters.net, we strongly believe that no roof should be left unturned, that every roof in America that meets the basic solar requirements should have solar panels on them. The president’s home is no exception.
Last October, Secretary of Energy Steven Chu announced that in keeping with the administration’s commitment to move toward a clean energy economy, the White House would lead by example: By the end of this Spring, there would be a solar PV and solar hot water system on its roof.
He went on to say: “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.”
In Febuary, Chu announced details of the department’s SunShot initiative, which focused on bringing the total costs of utility scale solar energy systems down about 75 percent to roughly $1 a watt by 2020, a feat that would make large scale solar energy cost competitive with electricity from fossil fuels. The White House project again was mentioned as one component of this initiative.
As we all know, spring came and went and there was no sign of any solar. In true EcoOutfitters fashion, we wrote a letter to the president and offered our assistance to help make this dream a reality.
We received a response back from the Department of Energy that the bidding process is taking place and it expects to make a selection very soon. While this was a very exciting piece of information, we wanted to hear more specifics (scope of work, schedule, number of bidders, and so forth). We began asking a series of questions and with the aid of SEIA’s (Solar Energy Industries Association) policy specialists, we were able to confirm that the DOE did in fact run the procurement process for the White House Solar PV and Solar Hot Water systems.
Limited invitations were sent out to eligible contractors registered on the General Services Administration schedule (GSA). As many as 40 solar companies are on this list. The application process has been closed for deliberation and the administration is making daily phone calls and pushing for the project to get off the ground soon.
The bottom line, however, is that the administration could have done a better job communicating the process. In doing so, it could have prevented the speculation around the solar industry about what appeared to be a broken promise. Our hope moving forward is an administration that communicates with full transparency and through an open and fair process.
Although we were not able to receive an explanation as to why the spring deadline passed, we are very happy to report that in a relatively short time we will witness solar atop the most prestigious roof of all.