Once upon a time, in early 2010, a solar start-up called Sungevity decided to donate a solar array to the White House. Sungevity thought that, if the Obamas put up solar panels, it would inspire homeowners everywhere to start creating their own electricity.
Like many great ideas (recycling, wheeled luggage, gravity), this one took a while to catch on, even though (or maybe because) solar panels had, a long time ago, stood proudly on the White House (back in the day when everyone was waiting on long lines to fill up their gas tanks). When President Carter’s solar water heater was installed, he said, “A generation from now, this solar heater can either be a curiosity, a museum piece, or it can be a small part of the greatest adventures undertaken by the American people.” Then along came President Reagan, who removed the system and bid farewell to the solar incentives Carter had set up. The panels were carted off to a museum, just as Carter had feared.