Jimmy Carter Builds Solar Farm To Power Half His City

Jimmy Carter was ahead of his time when it comes to using clean energy. During the country's second energy crisis, he demonstrated the use of solar panels at the White House. He's also leasing 10 acres of solar panels in his hometown.


May 26 2019, Updated 1:54 p.m. ET

A former United States president was well ahead of the renewable energy curve back in 1979. During the country’s energy crisis, Jimmy Carter had used solar panels to combat the growing worry of the oil supply being limited. That vision grew into the completion of a large solar farm in Carter’s hometown that fuels half of the community’s energy needs.

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The country’s second energy, or oil, crisis created an increase in gas prices until the mid 1980’s. During Carter’s presidential term, he delivered a message for Americans to improve energy efficiency. He introduced solar panels that were responsible for heating water and used a wood-burning stove to decrease energy usage. Those panels were removed by the next president in office, Ronald Reagan, but are on display at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American history.

While others may not have had the same visions Carter had, he’s always kept energy efficiency in mind. Interestingly enough, Carter had it right when telling the nation that solar panels could be “a small part of one of the greatest and most exciting adventures ever undertaken by the American people.”

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In conjunction with SolAmerica, Carter and his family leased 10 acres of land from his hometown in Plains, Georgia, to construct a solar farm. 3,852 solar panels and 1.3 megawatts of capacity were installed after the solar firm got in touch with Carter’s grandson, Jason. The former president supported the plan immediately and became greatly involved with the project.

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The Plains solar project isn’t the biggest around. It’s able to provide enough energy for over half of the population, which is around 700 people. However, it’s been the attention the project received that has given push for more solar power solutions in the area. Georgia Power adopted a solar energy program thanks to Carter’s wishes. On the utility company’s website, residents can find out if their home is ideal for solar energy generation.

Another landmark related to the former president is the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library in Atlanta, Georgia. Plains is roughly a 2.5 hour drive away from the state’s capital city. In June, the museum activated 324 solar panels that is able to supplement seven percent of the building’s energy needs. While that percentage may be small, it’ll save annual costs by about $15,000. Those savings will be on the local taxpayers who pay for the museum’s electricity.

Carter has been very pleased with both renewable energy efforts and has been at both of their unveiling ceremonies this year. He restated his passion in an AJC report:  “It really is and has been a lifelong personal exercise and commitment and passion, really, for my grandparents. So this is a great testament to their legacy.”


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