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Solar panels finally back on the White House almost 30 years after Reagan removed them

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Back in 2010, the Obama administration announced that it would be restoring solar panels to the roof of the White House residence. Originally, panels were installed in the late '70s during President Jimmy Carter's administration, but President Ronald Reagan removed them in 1986 because of a roof leak and decided not to reinstall them. Almost 30 years later, the panels are back up and the administration is using it as a jumping-off point to announce a number of other energy efficiency initiatives.

According to The Washington Post, those initiatives include both commercial and federal pledges — Walmart says it will double the number of on-site solar energy projects it has in its stores and distribution centers by 2020, while the Energy Department will issue two new rulings today to cut energy consumption in electric motors, walk-in refrigerators, and freezers. The department also plans to launch a training program focused in community colleges in an effort to have 50,000 new jobs in the solar-energy industry by 2020.

President Obama's administration is also planning to spend $2 billion to improve energy efficiency in federal buildings over the next two years, though there are no details yet on how exactly that will be carried out. It also plans to approve a new commercial building code that is 8.5 percent more efficient than the one it replaces. As for the solar panels on the White House roof, they were all manufactured in the US and cover about the same area as those on a standard American house — White House usher James Doherty notes in a video that the administration would love to cover the entire roof but couldn't because of security concerns.

Update May 9th, 2:25PM: Article updated to include details about the White House's original solar panels, which were installed in the 1970s.