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Trump pitches GOP leaders on idea to use solar panels to pay for border wall
President Donald Trump pitched GOP congressional leaders Tuesday on installing solar panels in order to fund his long-promised U.S.-Mexico border wall. (Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty Images)

Trump pitches GOP leaders on idea to use solar panels to pay for border wall

President Donald Trump pitched Republican congressional leaders Tuesday on using solar panels to pay for his long-promised wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.

During a meeting at the White House with GOP leadership, Trump floated the idea of covering the southern wall with solar panels, Axios reported. The electricity generated by the panels would go to pay for the perimeter, which the president vowed on the campaign trail would be funded by Mexico.

The president also told the gathered lawmakers that he envisions a wall that is 40-50 feet tall, covered in solar panels, so they would be “beautiful structures.” Most walls, Trump said, are 14-15 feet high, but his envisioned U.S.-Mexico border wall would be nothing like those barriers.

Trump reportedly told the Republican leaders that they were free to discuss the solar-paneled wall, as long as they said it was his idea. But there’s one problem: It doesn’t appear that Trump was the originator of the idea.

In fact, the idea of a solar-panel-clad structure was proposed in April when U.S. Customs and Border Protection was requesting proposals for border wall prototypes.

Gleason Partners, LLC, of Las Vegas pitched CBP in April on covering the border wall in solar panels, according to The Associated Press. The panels on the wall would provide electricity for lighting, sensors, and patrol stations along the structure.

The company determined that sales of electricity to utilities could make up the cost of construction in 20 years or less. In addition, the U.S. could sell some of the power generated to Mexico.

“I like the wall to be able to pay for itself,” managing partner Thomas Gleason said at the time.

Gleason estimated that his proposed wall would cost $6 million per mile to build, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported.

Regardless of how the structure is built, Trump did insist, yet again, that Mexico will eventually pay for the wall’s construction, but acknowledged that taxpayers will have to foot the bill up front before it is repaid, Politico reported.

The president's solar panel pitch came just days after he announced the U.S. was withdrawing from the Paris climate agreement.

“We’re getting out,” the president said from the White House’s Rose Garden last week. “And we will start to renegotiate and we’ll see if there’s a better deal. If we can, great. If we can’t, that’s fine.”

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