From one power source to another

Independent Power Producers Association of BC president Steve Davis told Public Eye Radio yesterday independent power producers have been putting former Campbell administration civil servants and political aides on their payroll because the industry is "highly governed and and ordered" by government.

Among the most prominent hirings: former finance deputy Paul Taylor, the president and chief executive officer of NaiKun Wind Energy Group Inc.; former attorney general Geoff Plant, the chairman of Renaissance Power Corp.; and the three former aides working at Plutonic Power Corporation Inc.

Asked about those examples, Mr. Davis explained, "the industry is a relatively political industry. And I say that in the sense that we have lots of rules and regulations that we have to abide by. The buyer of our product is BC Hydro - which is a Crown corporation. Electricity is directed by provincial government policy. So those that are in government see things that are going on. And, when they do come to the private sector, they go to areas where they think their competence may have some value. So electricity, as I say, because it is so highly governed and ordered by government it is a relatively natural area for people with that experience to look for employment."

But isn't it possible someone might think one of the reasons the Campbell administration continues to support independent power producers is because former government insiders are working for the industry?

"Not really," Mr. Davis responded. "To give you an idea, the IIPBC - the Independent Power Producers Association of BC - we've got about 320 members. About 100 of them are developers. So you mentioned three companies that have got some people that are working in it. There's over 90 other companies that are competing. So the industry is not infiltrated by these kind of folks. There's lots of competition. And there's three companies that have hired some people. But I'm sure if one looked at the forest industry, the mining industry one would see that some previous civil servants have gone to companies in those industries as well."

Still, aren't Naikun and Plutonic two of the province's leading independent power producers?

"Well, they're actually not," said Mr. Davis, citing Brookfield Asset Management Inc., Canadian Hydro Developers Inc., ENMAX Corp. and EPCOR Power L.P. as better examples. "Neither company is providing electricity to the grid right now. They both have some large projects that they're pursuing. But there are not just dozens of companies but there are hundreds of projects."

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