Last week, the White House announced it would be adding solar panels to its roof, the latest and most buzz-worthy of a series of installations occurring citywide. The trend has also spread to Georgetown, with a house on 33rd Street shedding dependence on traditional energy sources for installations of solar panels.
The eco-friendly panels save consumers money, as part of an energy business that has expanded drastically in the past decade, with industry experts estimating a 50 percent annual growth rate in the United States every year in the 2000s, according to the Los Angeles Times. The United States has yet to catch up to European countries in solar panel installation, however.
“Washington has twice the sunlight of Germany, the nation with the most solar energy in the world,” Anthony Conyers (COL ’12), a member of Georgetown Energy, said.
Georgetown Energy, a company founded by a group of Georgetown students, has been a key force in introducing solar energy to the surrounding neighborhood. The group advocates the use of solar energy, arguing that placing solar power saves D.C. residents money, according to the Georgetown Energy website. With a combination of a 3 percent discount offered by Georgetown Energy, a federal tax credit for installing a solar energy system, and a D.C. grant, D.C. residents can save up to 75 percent of the costs of a solar energy program, according to the Georgetown Patch.
“It makes sense for people in the D.C. area to consider solar energy, financially,” Conyers said. “D.C. offers one of the best solar incentive packages in the country, and all of us at Georgetown Energy are encouraging people to take advantage of them.”
The group consulted with the owner of the home at 1541 33rd St. NW, and helped him put in place the first residential solar program in Georgetown, according to Georgetown Energy.
Despite D.C. incentives, the Georgetown neighborhood holds a tight grip on setup of solar panels in the area. If the panels can be seen from any public road, the Old Georgetown Board, as well as the Historic Preservation Review Board, must first approve the installation, as much of Georgetown remains a historic district.
Though there are hurdles to jump when making the switch to solar panels in Georgetown, solar panel additions are on the rise throughout the District, most prominently at the White House; plans to set up solar panels and a solar water heater on the roof of the White House were announced on Oct. 5. The new program at the White House is not the first time a president attempted to install solar energy at the Executive Mansion. President Carter’s administration installed solar panels in 1979, during the OPEC oil embargo. Carter said that the solar water heater would still be producing energy in the year 2000, but the system only lasted for seven years and was removed by President Reagan.”