Lonsdale Energy Corporation is reaching for your wallet and asking more for its services. At a recent council meeting, the City of North Vancouver council gave LEC the permission to increase rates for old and new customers.
LEC blames inflation, maintenance, construction, as well as increased recovery cost for heat from the North Shore Wastewater Treatment plant for this asks from the council. Consumers can expect a capacity charge increase of five per cent every year, which would help LEC fund heat recovery cost from the North Shore Wastewater Treatment Plant and pay back its loans to the City of North Vancouver.
This means the rates will increase by nearly 15 per cent over the next five years. For customers who use over 300 Megawatt. of energy per year, the rate will increase to $163.81, up $2 from the present $161.55.
“We want to increase the meter and capacity charge following inflation, to increase it by 1.4 per cent. On top of that we propose to add five per cent on the capacity charge, which is related to the Wastewater Treatment Plant which will increase out capital and our fixed cost.
“This averages to an increase of 3.7 per cent,” Ben Themens, the director of LEC, told a council meeting recently. The rate increase will help the LEC in recovering cost of the meters and heat exchangers, as well as in the operating costs related to meter readings, maintenance and invoicing.
Themens said the corporation has only increased rates twice, a five per cent capacity charge increase in 2013 and another five per cent increase in 2014. Last year, LEC introduced a new rate structure with two separate rate schedules which it says would allow for smaller buildings to have a reduced meter charge. LEC claims it’s the most competitive hot water based district energy provider in the Lower Mainland.
LEC rates, it claims, are significantly more economical than using baseboard electric heat and even with an increase, it will provide customers with energy below the price of electricity. That is not how Gary Matheson of Quay Property Management Corp sees it.
Quay Property Management will be managing The Shipyards-Lot 5 and Matheson fears the company will have no option but to pass on the rate increase to the future tenants. “I’m here raising concerns about what will be a very expensive way of heating and cooling the shipyards. I have grave concerns on the size of the increase and it will be a burden to my subtenants going forward,” he said.
Matheson said his company was all for greener energy, but was concerned that the LEC might be increasing rates to finance the infrastructure for both future growth and it wasn’t fair for the present customers to be bearing that cost. He said the commodity charge for the company would be going up 37 per cent over the next five years.
“When LEC is significantly more expensive than developing ones own system, we have to take a really hard look at what cost is the green energy. It has to be reasonable,” he said. Councillors Holly Back, Don Bell, Rod Clark, and Pam Bookham raised concerns about the increase in rates, but Mayor Darrell Musatto and Craig Keating were more accepting of the rate increases.
“Like everything else that we have done in the last 100 or 110 years is build things now that people will only begin to enjoy in the future. And that is the way we build cities and that is the way we build utilities,” said Coun. Keating. Mayor Musatto said LEC is very competitive compared to other district energy systems in the region, perhaps even nationally.
“We do have to pay for this system for it to be efficient. If you could talk to any other providers, they will tell you we would love to own Lonsdale Energy Corporation because I can bet you they raise their rates quite significantly,” he said. The motion to increase the rates passed with only Pam Bookham opposed.