ABC News' Sunlen Miller reports: The White House announced today it plans to install solar panels and a solar hot water heater on the roof of the White House residence in Spring of 2011. The announcement was made by Secretary of Energy Steven Chu at the GreenGov conference this morning at The George Washington University. ''Today, we’re taking another important step. As we move towards a clean energy economy, the White House will lead by example. I’m pleased to announce that by the end of this Spring there will be solar panels that convert sunlight into electricity and a solar water heater on the roof of the White House. It’s been a long time since we’ve had them up there,'' Secretary Chu said at the conference this morning. “Around the world the White House is a symbol of freedom and democracy, it should also be a symbol of America’s commitment to a clean energy future,” Secretary Chu continued. The system will convert sunlight directly to electricity. The solar hot water heater will have a solar collector facing the sun that will heat water for use in the White House Residence. But note, a company has not yet been chosen to make the installation. The Department of Energy will now begin a “competitive procurement process” to select the company responsible for the installations. “This project reflects President Obama’s strong commitment to U.S. leadership in solar energy and the jobs it will create here at home,” said Secretary Chu said in a paper statement. “Deploying solar energy technologies across the country will help America lead the global economy for years to come.” The Department of Energy notes this announcement today is made on the one-year anniversary of President Obama’s Executive Order 13514 on Leadership in Environmental, Energy, and Economic Performance, which called on the Federal Government to lead by example towards a clean energy economy and reduce, measure and report direct and indirect greenhouse gas pollution. The president has long touted the benefits of solar power – not only to create a greener country and save energy but also as a job creator that will aid the overall economic recovery. “We've got some fights to make sure that we're sparking innovation and igniting a clean energy sector where American workers are making solar panels and wind towers and cutting-edge batteries for the new plug-in hybrid, that leads on clean energy — because the economy that leads on clean energy I believe is going to lead the global economy. And I want America to be that nation,” the president said in February of this year. When asked in May of this year what the status of working towards a more solar at his own house, President Obama remained coy, only answering that he thought it is a “great idea.” Over the last two years the solar lobby has been out in full force – lobbying for the president to install solar panels. Groups like “Put Solar On It!” and “Solar on the White House” created online petitions to pressure the White House to make an example by putting panels on the nation’s most famous house. In February White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said there had been discussion of solar panels, but no decisions had been made. In the meantime, President Obama directed the entire federal government to make green improvements – including the use of more solar power at buildings other than the White House. There is of course a long history of solar panels going up and coming down on the White House. In June 1979 President Jimmy Carter, an early advocate of greening practices, installed 32 solar panels on the White House roof. The panels, installed just above the Oval Office, were used to heat water in the White house staff kitchen. The original solar panels were removed in 1986 during the Reagan administration and placed in a government storage facility in Franconia, Va., just outside of Washington, DC. In 2003, President George W. Bush quietly installed a series of three solar systems on the White House grounds, including panels on the pool cabana to help with water heating.