Cross-posted from the Wonk Room.

At the GreenGov Symposium this morning, Secretary of Energy Steven Chu announced that the Obama White House will bring back solar power, removed decades ago by the Reagan administration. “The number one question we get when greening the White House, is whether we’re putting solar panels on the roof,” Council on Environmental Quality chair Nancy Sutley said in her introduction. After noting the many practical steps the Obama administration has taken to restore the solar energy industry in this nation, Chu announced that “the White House will lead by example” by installing solar panels and a solar water heater on the roof:

As we move towards a clean energy economy, the White House will lead by example. 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. It’s been a long time since we’ve had them up there. These two solar installations will be part of a Department of Energy demonstration project. 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.

Watch it:

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Although photovoltaic power was first developed in the United States, two decades of domestic neglect have allowed Germany, China, and Spain to leapfrog this country in solar energy. Buoyed by the Recovery Act, however, employment in the U.S. solar industry has been exploding in recent years, reaching 60,000 jobs in 2010.

Youth climate activists with had challenged the White House to lead the nation by example, bringing one of the original solar panels installed by the Jimmy Carter administration to a meeting with White House officials last month. Secretary Chu’s announcement comes days before’s 10/10/10 Global Work Party. During the largest climate-action mobilization in the planet’s history, hundreds of thousands of people from nearly every nation in the world will follow Barack Obama’s example and participate in actions large and small to make their lives more sustainable this Sunday.

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