Originally published on Solar Love.
Jimmy Carter, America’s 39th president, left office under a cloud. His presidency was forever tainted by his famous speech to the American people advising them to wear sweaters in a time of rising energy prices. He was also made to look weak by Ronald Reagan and his band of merry pranksters when a mission to rescue the American hostages in Iran was aborted due to sand getting into the engines of the helicopters.
Reagan later sprang his “October Surprise” just before the election in 1980. Even though Reagan claimed credit for it, the Carter administration had brokered a deal with Tehran for the release of the hostages, but secrecy was required to keep the negotiations from falling apart. Carter refused to break his promise to keep the talks private, even though it cost him the election.
While in office, Carter installed 32 solar panels on the roof of the White House and a solar hot water heater. “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,” Carter told the nation.
Shortly after Reagan occupied the White House, he had the solar panels ripped out and thrown in the trash. You can watch a short video about one of America’s first solar initiatives below.
Now Carter has leased 10 acres of land near his home in Plains, Georgia. Working with SolAmerica, a 1.3 megawatt solar farm has been constructed on the land. Each year, it will supply more than 55 million kilowatt hours of clean energy to the residents of Plains — more than half the town’s annual electrical consumption.
“Rosalynn and I are very pleased to be part of SolAmerica’s exciting solar project in Plains,” Carter said in a statement. “Distributed, clean energy generation is critical to meeting growing energy needs around the world while fighting the effects of climate change. I am encouraged by the tremendous progress that solar and other clean energy solutions have made in recent years and expect those trends to continue.”
History may look more kindly on Jimmy Carter than his contemporaries did. Since leaving office, he has championed Habitat for Humanity around the world and fought tirelessly for social justice for all the earth’s people. His compassion and humanity are the polar opposite of the hate filled spitefulness of the current occupant of the Oval Office. Sometimes it take history a while to fully appreciate the depth of character of those who helped make it.
Source: Mother Nature Network Photo credit: SolAmerica
Reprinted with permission.
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