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White house reinstalls solar panels

Digital writers

Saturday, May 10, 2014, 3:35 PM -

Technicians have finished installing solar panels on the White House roof, capping a project that President Barack Obama hopes will send a signal that renewable energy is feasible and environmentally shrewd. 

Obama said in 2010 that he would retrofit his family's new home with solar panels starting in 2011, then use the power generated to heat water for the first family and provide some electricity. 

But the project remained dark until late 2013, when the installation finally started. 

Citing security and other concerns, the White House won't say how many panels now encase the top of 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. or how much they cost.

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The panels are expected to generate 6.3 kilowatts of solar power whenever the sun shines, the White House said. 

Obama wants to use his personal example to spur families and businesses to do more to reduce reliance on foreign energy and cut emissions blamed for global warming. 

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"Solar panels at the White House are a really important message that solar is here, we are doing it, we can do a lot more,'' Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz said in a video released by the White House.

The project required technicians to first drill down to the concrete on the White House roof, then use epoxy glue and threaded rods to install a gridded subassembly onto which the solar panels could be secured. 

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The solar components, converters and the labour to install the panels were all domestic, according to the White House, which declined to name any of the companies involved in the project. 

Obama isn't the first president to deploy solar at the White House.

President Jimmy Carter spent $30,000 on a solar water-heating system for West Wing offices in 1979, but his successor, Ronald Reagan, tossed the panels after he moved in. 

President George W. Bush's solar systems powered a maintenance building and some of the mansion, plus provided heated water for the pool. 

With files from Josh Lederman; The Associated Press

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