Skip to main content

A Shadow on Solar Power

53597465_f826734f12_m One of the fears with adoption of alternative energy technology is that it isn’t going to produce enough power. So maybe there’s just not enough wind, or maybe the sun don’t shine. But in urban areas, the challenge goes further when your neighbours change things around you. This has happened recently in Aberdeen, SK, Canada when a neighbour started building a home that will partially block the sunlight on the adjacent lot…

This was going to be our retirement home," said Annette Schewe, who moved with her husband Les into the home in Aberdeen, Sask., about 35 kilometres northeast of Saskatoon, on April 14. "We just can’t believe this is happening. I can’t tell you the mental anguish it’s had on both of us."

A closet is filled with 12 large batteries that store the energy produced by the massive solar panels on the south-sloped roof. The sun powers and heats the entire home, including its ceramic floors. The house is also linked to the town’s power grid as a backup source. The trouble is, a concrete foundation for what’s to be a two-storey home – looming 10 feet higher than the Schewes’ – has been built on a 25-foot lot behind them.

"It’s our own stupidity. We didn’t get a survey done when we bought the house," said Schewe, who assumed the lot was too small for any structures.

Owners of solar-powered home left in the dark

Do Canadians have a right to light? Certainly, the law is weak on many fronts when it comes to disputes that between neighbours that fall outside of municipal ordinances such as zoning bylaws.

The article states that other countries have “solar easements”, here’s an interesting document (pdf 100kB) from the Energy Policies Initiatives Centre in San Diego about Californian Legislation on the matter.

Mike Thomas

Mike Thomas P.Eng. ENV SP, is the author of UrbanWorkbench.com and Director of Engineering at the City of Revelstoke in the Interior of British Columbia, Canada. If I post something here that you find helpful as you navigate the world of engineering, planning and building communities, that’s wonderful. But when push comes to shove: This is my personal blog. The views expressed on these pages are mine alone and not those of my employer.

2 thoughts on “A Shadow on Solar Power

Comments are closed.