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Like A Reverse Mr. Burns, Jimmy Carter’s Solar Panels Are Powering His Hometown

Jimmy Carter has always been an environmental advocate, but since 2017, the former President has effectively been providing most of his hometown of Plains, Georgia with energy—from solar panels on his farm.

Carter used solar panels to power sections of the White House when he was in office. “A generation from now, this solar heater can either be a curiosity, a museum piece, an example of a road not taken or it can be just a small part of one of the greatest and most exciting adventures ever undertaken by the American people,” Carter said when the White House solar panels were installed.

However, soon after Carter left office in 1981, President Ronald Reagan removed the solar panels (I guess Reagan was trying to make the alternative energy source “a curiosity”). The White House solar panels are now in museums such as the Smithsonian National Museum of American History. Most recently, President Trump criticized environmentally-friendly energy initiatives and loosened restrictions on coal. Trump, who apparently belongs in Don Quixote, has also called windmills “monsters” and said they cause “tremendous fumes.”

Carter never gave up on solar power, though.

He generously allowed his land to be used for the greater environmental good. According to SolAmerica, the company that first reached out to Carter about the idea and worked alongside him to install the panels on his farmland. The 3,852 solar panels on Carter’s property can provide more than 50 percent of power to the 727 residents in Plains. SolAmerican’s partnership agreement with Georgia Power will last until 2042.

“When I told people we were getting solar panels, they said, ‘In Plains?'” Jan Williams, who used to run the Plains Historic Inn, told The New York Times in 2017 when the panels were first installed. “They say, ‘Well, that’s because of Jimmy Carter.’ It is because of Jimmy Carter. Plains is all because of Jimmy Carter.”

Patricia Grisafi

Written by Patricia Grisafi