Solar thermal panel installed by Jimmy Carter on the White House now on display in Vermont

NRG Systems, a designer and manufacturer of smart technologies for wind, solar, and meteorological applications, has put a once forgotten solar thermal panel from the Carter Administration on display at its Vermont headquarters. The panel was part of a roof-mounted, 32-panel array used to heat water for the White House from 1979 until 1986, when it was removed by the Reagan Administration.

President Jimmy Carter at the dedication of the solar-thermal panels at the White House, June 20, 1979. Image courtesy of the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library.

NRG Systems acquired the panel nearly a decade ago from Unity College, an environmentally-geared liberal arts school in Maine. Unity had saved the panels from obscurity in 1991, moving them from the recesses of a government warehouse in Washington, D.C., to its bucolic New England campus. Sixteen of the panels were installed on the college cafeteria’s roof, where they continue to produce clean, renewable energy from the sun’s rays. The rest of the array was placed in storage.

NRG’s panel remained out of public view until the spring of 2018, when it was installed in the main meeting space of the company’s LEED Gold-certified headquarters.

A solar-thermal panel from the White House on display at NRG Systems’ Vermont headquarters. Image courtesy of NRG Systems.

“We are proud to showcase this remarkable piece of American history, and we continue to be inspired by President Carter’s vision for a more sustainable future,” said Justin Wheating, NRG’s president. “NRG is steadfastly dedicated to developing the tools needed to help our planet achieve global resource sustainability, while coping with climate challenges that continue to grow more numerous and complex. This panel serves as a symbol of how far renewables have come in the past 40 years, as well as a reminder of how far we have yet to go.”

NRG Systems recently contacted President Carter to inform him that part of his landmark solar array was on display in Vermont. The company received a handwritten note from the 94-year-old dignitary, who expressed gratitude for NRG’s work and its commitment to upholding our country’s long-standing commitment to clean energy.

Panels from the Carter administration’s solar-thermal array also reside at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C., the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library and Museum in Atlanta, Georgia, and the Solar Science and Technology Museum in Dezhou, China. The panel at NRG Systems can be viewed by appointment.

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