About UsOur Mandate Board of Directors Board of Directors CommitteesBoard ScheduleAssociation Committees Operating CommitteesBlog
Formation and early years:
The Independent Power Producers association of BC (or as it was first named, the Independent Power Association of BC) was formed in 1992.
The independent power producer (IPP) industry began in 1978 when U.S. President Carter passed the Public Utilities Regulatory Holding Act to harness private sector initiative to solve the first energy crisis.
The IPP industry in BC was launched in 1989 when BC's Minister of Energy instructed BC Hydro to issue calls for proposals for private power. After a brief initial burst, for the next decade, in general, projects were slow to advance due to institutional inertia, changing regulatory practices, sluggish domestic electricity demand growth, and for some projects, the challenges in public perception and financing that face every new industry.
The IPPBC was formed to enable IPPs to work collectively to overcome the common barriers to development, especially in provincial electricity policy and regulation.
The first major policy issue tackled by the IPPBC was electricity export. In 1992, the provincial government placed a freeze on exports of electricity. The IPPBC struck a special sub-committee and commissioned and submitted a report on the topic. The IPPBC's report played a key role in the export of electricity being accepted in principle by government.
From 1993-2010, IPPBC has participated at the BCUC hearings on transmission needs and on the BC Government's Green Energy Advisory Task Force. IPPBC has also appeared at several BCUC hearings and provided reports to various government electricity task forces. These included the “Review of BC Hydro’s Resource Acquisition Policy” in 1995, Electricity Markets Restructuring submission in 1996, and participation in the Wholesale Transmission Operations review in 1997. In each case, the IPPBC Directors engaged experts who worked with IPPBC members to devise solutions that were both appropriate for the industry and in the provincial interest.
The IPPBC views were always well received by the various task force committees. Unfortunately, the government of the day did not accept the findings of the BCUC or their task force committees. Nonetheless the media consistently invited quotes from the IPPBC directors on provincial electricity policies and energy related issue and events.
In 2001, the election of the Liberal government coupled with increased electricity imports brought a resurgence of interest in IPPs. The new government invited industry stakeholders, including the IPPBC, to provide input into creating a new electricity policy.
The IPPBC prepared and presented a report titled “B.C. Electricity Market Reform Policy Recommendations” to the BC Energy Policy Development Task Force in 2001 and a “Commentary on the Draft Energy Policy” in February, 2002.
In November 2002, the province announced the new Energy Plan. One of the four cornerstones of the Energy Plan was “Increased opportunities for private sector investment”. It also stated that; "The private sector will develop new electricity generation, with BC Hydro restricted to improvements at existing plants" and that there will be "improved access to the transmission system and enable IPP participation in US wholesale markets". Another policy aims to improve an IPP’s ability to sell to industrial customers. These directions were akin to some of the key recommendations contained in the IPPBC’s Policy Recommendations report.
Since the 2002 Energy Plan launched industry re-regulation the IPPBC has been a registered intervener in the BCUC’s 2003 Heritage Contract Inquiry, two BC Hydro Revenue Requirement Hearings, two BC Hydro Integrated Electricity Plan Applications, two BCTC Capital Plan Reviews, BCTC’s Open Access Transmission Tariff Application, two BC Hydro-Alcan EPA Reviews, and CPCNs for Aberfeldie and for Revelstoke Unit 5.
Various government agencies have invited the IPPBC to provide input on issues related to and impacted by IPP project development, including; Land & Water BC, Department of Fisheries & Oceans and their Navigation Assessment Branch, BC Environmental Assessment Office, the BC Ministry of Finance, BC's Land Resource Management Planning Forum for the Sea-to-Sky corridor, and the GVRD’s Energy Sustainability Group. The Premier’s Task Force of Alternative Energy and Power Technology and the Premiers Technology Council have also sought the IPPBC’s input on identifying barriers to green power development.
BC Hydro and BCTC have invited the IPPBC to provide input into various issues including; green and alternative energy standards, procurement processes, and interconnection issues. IPPBC provided four detailed commentaries to BC Hydro on their Electricity Purchase Agreements (EPAs), the most recent being their draft 2007 Standing Offer Program. IPPBC made many recommendations to BC Hydro about the terms of their F2006 Call for Tenders. BC Hydro incorporated many suggestions but certainly not all.
IPPBC worked jointly with BCTC on the BC Wind Integration System Expansion study in 2004. IPPBC provided BCTC with a Transmission Issues Preliminary Position Paper in 2005. IPPBC’s Transmission Committee has met with BCTC roughly quarterly since 2005.
From 2001 – 2003 BC Hydro held 3 power acquisition processes that resulted in their signing EPAs with 34 IPP projects. This level of activity was much more than that in the previous 8 years. However, the 2500 GWh contained in these EPAs totaled only 4.5% of BC Hydro’s load, and was less than half the amount that BC Hydro was consistently importing each year, on a net basis.
BC IPP developers offered BC Hydro over 150 project submissions in those 3 years. The majority were run-of-river projects ranging from 1 to 50 MW. A dozen were wind power projects. Another dozen were biomass or biogas projects. Gas-fired projects dominated BC Hydro’s Vancouver Island Call for Tenders and won the contract (which BC Hydro then terminated)
In March 2004 BC Hydro’s Integrated Electricity Plan called for only 400 GWh of new supply of IPP power until 2009. The IPPBC strongly questioned this small appetite since; BC has been a net importer for 5 years despite close to average reservoir inflows, imports reached 13.5% of domestic demand in 2005, high gas prices and the poor state of equipment prohibit Burrard Thermal from reasonably delivering much energy, and domestic demand growth has increased strongly. The IPPBC published “Cost of Electricity Imports” in October, 2004 using BC Hydro data to show the high amounts of imports and the costs and risks therein. BC Hydro’s 2006 Integrated Electricity Plan showed a significant need for acquiring more new supply.
In January 2006, 82 IPP projects registered an interest in bidding to BC Hydro’s F2006 CFT. In April 53 projects submitted bids. In July BC Hydro awarded EPAs to 38 IPPs. In October the BCUC reviewed these contracts and granted a section 71 approval.
As part of the Multi-party IPP Working Group, IPPBC meets with BC Hydro, Powerex, BCTC, MEMPR, and representatives from local government and First Nations, and occasionally permitting agencies, roughly every quarter. IPPBC meets monthly with BC Hydro’s Stakeholder Engagement group.
In 2007 IPPBC submitted Detailed Commentaries on BC Hydro’s draft Standing Offer Program and draft Clean Power Call EPA Term Sheet. A Governance Review resulted in splitting the 25 member Board of Directors into a smaller Board focused on finance and governance and an Advisory Council focused on industry policy.
In 2008, in response to attacks from some politicized special interest groups IPPBC formed a Public Affairs Committee, hired a PR consultant, and wrote letters to the editor as Press Releases. IPPBC engaged Dr. Mark Jaccard to do a Peer Review of two 2007 controversial documents in which he countered their criticism of the provincial governments Energy Plan - especially IPPs role of building new generation. BC Hydro issued their Standing Offer Program (for under 10 MW), the Bioenergy RFP and the 2008 Clean Power Call RFP.
The IPPBC will continue to engage in policy implementation, to champion the tough issues, and to work tirelessly, as it has for 16 years, to ensure that the BC IPP industry becomes a major contributor to the BC electricity market and, as BC returns to self-sufficiency, to get positioned to begin to penetrate export markets.