LEC Frequently Asked Questions

What is the relationship between Lonsdale Energy Corporation and the City?
The LEC utility is wholly owned by the City, but operates as a separate company. The City's role is that of a rate regulator to ensure LEC customers receive clean, affordable district energy heating.

Why district energy?
In the late 1990s, when the City began its Waterfront and Lower Lonsdale redevelopment plans, City Council insisted that energy planning be a consideration. This was an unusual step because energy planning was traditionally carried out by BC Hydro and Terasen Gas, but the City did not want to contribute to the growing energy gap in BC. As such, LEC was formed in 2003. District energy systems have worked extremely well in many European countries for decades.

How does district energy heating work?
Through a series of mini-plants, LEC circulates hot water to heat the buildings that are connected to its system.

What are the advantages of using the LEC?
There are clear environmental and financial benefits. Visit our LEC Advantages page for details.

Why does LEC use natural gas to run its mini-plants?
Natural gas is highly efficient and competitively priced. LEC recognizes that while it is relatively clean, natural gas remains a fossil fuel. As such, LEC continually looks for ways to use alternative/renewable energy sources such as the geothermal and solar energy and waste heat recovery currently used in its system. LEC systems are designed to use any variety of fuels, enabling LEC to minimize emissions by drawing from other energy sources as soon as it becomes economical to do so. In the meantime, LEC makes large-volume natural gas purchases by negotiating the best possible rates.

How does LEC compare in terms of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions?
Compared to buildings that have stand-alone natural gas boilers, LEC's GHG emissions are lower. Compared to BC Hydro's emissions, LEC customers should consider the following: over the last decade, all new power needs in BC have not consistently been met by existing hydro generation. In fact, BC Hydro supplemented its energy generation by importing coal fired and natural gas fired power from Alberta and the US, or through its Burrard Thermal plant which uses natural gas to produce electricity. Of the two fuels, natural gas is the cleaner burning energy source, however the generation of electricity is much lower in efficiency than burning natural gas to produce heat directly. LEC produces significantly less GHG emissions than new customers using electricity produced by Burrard Thermal or imported from Alberta and the US.

How efficient are LEC mini-plants?
Depending on the temperature of returning water, LEC's boilers have a nominal efficiency between 87% and 98%, a rate that exceeds stand-alone boilers typically installed in multi-unit residential buildings. Solar thermal, heat pumps, and waste heat recovery further increase the efficiency of LEC.

What problems are considered "building-side"?
Some technical issues may be related to the way a building is designed, constructed or operated. While these building-side issues are not LEC's responsibility, the company is working with developers to find solutions. In early 2006, LEC published in-building design guidelines to assist builders and developers in producing more energy efficient designs.

What can I do if my building's energy system doesn't seem to be working as efficiently as it should?
LEC also works with building strata councils to ensure all buildings connected to its heating system have the best energy performance. LEC wants to ensure that its customers are as comfortable as they can be in their residences and is happy to assist building owners who have accepted LEC's offer for support with their in-building system. Customers can request this service anytime free of charge. Contact your building's strata council for more details. LEC will work with your building representative to correct any LEC-related issues.

Who do I contact to discuss my building's energy performance?
To ensure all issues and requests are promptly addressed, LEC asks that requests be coordinated and forwarded by the buildings' strata councils. For assistance, strata council representatives are invited to email info@lonsdaleenergy.ca.

How do LEC rates compare to conventional heating systems?
The LEC system is significantly more efficient than conventional stand-alone boilers because less gas is consumed to generate the same amount of heat. This translates into important savings for LEC customers. In 2022, the average rate charged to customers was $0.1083 per kWh. This represents good value for customers. The amount not only provides for both space heating and domestic hot water heating, but also includes the cost of natural gas, maintenance, operation and supply of energy generation, distribution and delivery equipment. Visit our LEC Advantages page for more information.

How does LEC determine its rates?
When setting utility rates, LEC considers the number of existing and future customers, as well as cost and revenue forecasts over a 20-year period. LEC's main objective is not to generate extraordinary profits but rather to deliver an appropriate balance of environmental, social and economically sustainable benefits to the community.

What are LEC's long-term plans?
The City of North Vancouver Hydronic Heat Energy Service Bylaw requires that all new buildings over 1,000 m2 be connected to the district energy system. As a result the LEC district energy system is expanding in all service areas to serve new customers. LEC continues to investigate multiple low carbon energy sources to integrate into the district energy system to lower the carbon emissions of the community.

Share |