Solar panels on the roof of the shed built by Stefan Weissenberg in Destruction Bay. (Submitted/Stefan Weissenberg)

Resident bails on YG renewable energy rebate program, calls out bureaucracy

Stefan Weissenberg installed solar panels on a DIY shed to be told he didn’t have proper permits

A Destruction Bay resident says he ditched plans to install solar panels on a hand-built shed, blaming Yukon government red tape.

Stefan Weissenberg was interested in a rebate afforded to residents who utilize renewable energy. Clients, on or off-grid, can get back a minimum of $800 per kilowatt of electricity they generate.

“The purpose was to charge my tools, to have a little workshop,” said Weissenberg, who has a background in engineering. “I didn’t want to connect to the grid because it’s all diesel, so I put some solar panels on the roof without knowing, as most Yukoners don’t know, … doing so required building and electrical permits.”

On the face of it, he said, the rebate looks good, but drill down and that gets lost in the details.

“It’s a shed. It’s not something people are living in.”

According to a rundown of the incentive program, an electrical permit is required for off-grid clients.

But it seems Weissenberg’s troubles centre on being told he needed a building permit, too, which threw a wrench in the process.

A building permit is required for “residential accessory structures” that are larger than 130 square feet, according to the government’s website.

Weissenberg’s shed isn’t bigger than this, he said, adding that he was told by a representative from the Yukon government’s building safety and standards branch that a building permit became mandatory once the shed was powered by electricity.

This led him down a rabbit hole of government bureaucracy, forcing him to eventually abandon his DIY project, he said.

“I built the building and then I was trying to put solar panels on the roof and then they were like, ‘Oh no, now you need a building permit.’ They made me go back and get an engineer to inspect it to get building permits for the already built structure. I feel it was intended to punish and that’s fine, but I didn’t do anything wrong. I was misinformed.”

Weissenberg shelled out $500 for the engineer’s work, he said, adding that he contemplated taking the government to court over it.

“Specifically, for ancillary buildings, a building permit would be required, for example, if you’re installing or replacing heating equipment such as woodstoves, pellet stoves, oil-fired space heaters and fuel-fired equipment,” Yukon Department of Community Services spokesperson Maxim Naylor said in a written statement. “An electrical permit would be required if any electrical equipment (generator, solar panels, lights, or plugins) and wiring circuits are being installed or modified.”

Weissenberg said he never installed heating sources of this ilk.

The News asked Naylor whether it’s true a building permit is required once a building is powered by electricity, but didn’t immediately receive a response.

Matthew Ooms, manager of energy programs with the Department of Energy, Mines and Resources, said invoices and an electrical inspection are required for an off-grid system from his department.

He said he’s familiar with Weissenberg’s case.

“Often times the DIY projects we see come through our shop tend to be a little bit more complicated because people aren’t fully aware of all the permits and inspections and process that has to be done in order to do things by the book,” he said, noting that Weissenberg didn’t complete the electrical inspection.

Weissenberg said compliance in this case was too expensive to follow through with, particularly factoring in engineer work and renewable energy equipment for a building that isn’t his primary residence.

“It just seems like doublespeak,” he said of the government incentive program. “They’re saying yes we’re doing this about climate change, but, in reality, the rebates, as I have found out, are not applicable, unless you’re doing like a big new construction.”

“I think with climate change and how we’re seeing it, I think they need to move a bit faster,” Weissenberg said. “If people were more easily able to wire up their sheds with a very simple, small set regulations, more people would do it, I think, and get away from the gasoline. It shouldn’t be this kind of mess.”

Contact Julien Gignac at julien.gignac@yukon-news.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Dawson the dog sits next to the Chariot Patrick Jackson has loaded and rigged up to walk the Dempster Highway from where it begins, off the North Klondike Highway, to the Arctic Circle. (Submitted)
Walking the Dempster

Patrick Jackson gets set for 405-kilometre journey

Liberal leader Sandy Silver speaks outside his campaign headquarters in Dawson City following early poll results on April 12. (Robin Sharp/Yukon News)
BREAKING: Minority government results will wait on tie vote in Vuntut Gwitchin

The Yukon Party and the Liberal Party currently have secured the same amount of seats

Yukonomist Keith Halliday
YUKONOMIST: The Neapolitan election

Do you remember those old bricks of Neapolitan ice cream from birthday… Continue reading

Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Brendan Hanley. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Exposure notice issued for April 3 Air North flight

Yukon Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Brendan Hanley has issued another… Continue reading

Crystal Schick/Yukon News file
Runners in the Yukon Arctic Ultra marathon race down the Yukon River near the Marwell industrial area in Whitehorse on Feb. 3, 2019.
Cold-weather exercise hard on the lungs

Amy Kenny Special to the Yukon News It might make you feel… Continue reading

lwtters
Today’s Mailbox: Rent freezes and the youth vote

Dear Editor, I read the article regarding the recommendations by the Yukon… Continue reading

Point-in-Time homeless count planned this month

Volunteers will count those in shelters, short-term housing and without shelter in a 24-hour period.

The Yukon’s new ATIPP Act came into effect on April 1. Yukoners can submit ATIPP requests online or at the Legislative Assembly building. (Gabrielle Plonka/Yukon News file)
New ATIPP Act in effect as of April 1

The changes promise increased government transparency

A new conservancy in northern B.C. is adjacent to Mount Edziza Provincial Park. (Courtesy BC Parks)
Ice Mountain Lands near Telegraph Creek, B.C., granted conservancy protection

The conservancy is the first step in a multi-year Tahltan Stewardship Initiative

Yukon RCMP reported a child pornography-related arrest on April 1. (Phil McLachlan/Black Press file)
Whitehorse man arrested on child pornography charges

The 43-year-old was charged with possession of child pornography and making child pornography

Team Yukon athletes wave flags at the 2012 Arctic Winter Games opening ceremony in Whitehorse. The postponed 2022 event in Wood Buffalo, Alta., has been rescheduled for Jan. 29 to Feb. 4, 2023. (Justin Kennedy/Yukon News file)
New dates set for Arctic Winter Games

Wood Buffalo, Alta. will host event Jan. 29 to Feb. 4, 2023

Victoria Gold Corp. has contributed $1 million to the First Nation of Na-cho Nyak Dun after six months of production at the Eagle Gold Mine. (Submitted/Victoria Gold Corp.)
Victoria Gold contributes $1 million to First Nation of Na-cho Nyak Dun

Victoria Gold signed a Comprehensive Cooperation and Benefits Agreement in 2011

Most Read