NEW YORK, Feb 10 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Former U.S.
President Jimmy Carter has transformed his farmland into a field
of solar panels to help power his tiny rural hometown, nearly
four decades after he first had panels installed on the roof of
the White House.
Carter leased 10 acres (four hectares) to SolAmerica Energy
for the installation of more than 3,800 panels that rotate to
follow the sun and will provide energy to more than half of
Plains, Georgia, which has fewer than 700 residents, the company
The project was formally unveiled this week when the former
president, 92, and his wife Rosalynn Carter, cut a ceremonial
ribbon marking its launch.
Carter, a Democrat, had 32 solar panels put on the White
House roof in 1979, during an oil crisis spurred by strife in
oil producer Iran.
His successor, Republican President Ronald Reagan, had the
solar panels removed.
"This site will be as symbolically important as the 32
panels we put on the White House," Carter said at the ceremony,
according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution newspaper. "People
can come here and see what can be done."
A former peanut farmer from the rural U.S. South, Carter was
a one-term president from 1977 to 1981, during which time he
created the U.S. Department of Energy.
He was awarded the 2002 Nobel Peace Prize for his work for
peace, human rights and democracy.
In its first year, the solar project on Carter's land will
power 200 homes, said George Mori, executive vice president of
The former president's installation of solar panels at the
White House is "legendary," Mori told the Journal-Constitution
in an interview.
"In our industry, he's somewhat of a hero for his vision
around renewable energy and the growing need for it, for energy
independence and also for environmental reasons," Mori said.
The White House panels provided solar-heated water for one
of the presidential mansion's kitchens. They were removed in
Solar panels were installed again in 2003 under President
George W. Bush.
Carter most recently used his farmland to grow soybeans, the
He was diagnosed with cancer in 2015, but said last year
that he no longer needed treatment.
(Reporting by Ellen Wulfhorst, editing by Alisa Tang. Please
credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of
Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women's rights,
trafficking, property rights, climate change and resilience.