Former President Jimmy Carter continues to embrace solar — on his peanut farm

A former occupant of the White House was also making consumer news this week — but not by promoting a family business.

Ex-President Jimmy Carter leased 10 acres of his famed peanut farm to a solar company that will provide renewable energy to his hometown of Plains, Georgia. The new field will have nearly 4,000 rotating panels, enough to power about 200 homes in the first year.

“This site will be as symbolically important as the 32 panels we put on the White House,” Carter told a crowd at the ribbon-cutting event, according to the Atlanta Journal Constitution. “People can come here and see what can be done.”

Carter installed solar panels on the White House roof during his term, deciding it would send a message to Americans during the Arab oil embargo and rising energy prices. He also recommended homeowners turn down their thermostats and conserve.

President Ronald Reagan arrived and ditched the PV panels. President Barack Obama had a new system installed on the family residence in 2013.

Whatever happened to Carter’s original solar panels? Some were donated to a college. One ended up in the Smithsonian’s Museum of American History. Another is found at the Carter presidential library in Atlanta.

Carter, a scientist trained at the U.S. Naval Academy, was clearly an early adopter and maybe even a trendsetter, albeit a few decades early.

Employment in the solar industry grew 25 percent last year, reaching a total of 260,000 workers across the country, according to a survey released this week the non-profit Solar Foundation. Georgia saw the industry grow to nearly 4,000 employees — not peanuts.

Photo: Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter talks to the media after working on a home on Terilyn Avenue in San Jose, Calif. on Tuesday, Oct. 8, 2013. (Gary Reyes/Bay Area News Group)



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