The BIEE traces its origin to the 1st Annual International Conference of the IAEE in Washington DC in 1979. On that occasion, the UK Government representatives were Jane Carter, Eric Price and John Barber,all UK Department of Energy leading a group of some 20 delegates from the UK. In 1980 the decision was taken by David Howell, Secretary-of-State for Energy on recommendations approved by his Permanent Under-Secretary, Sir Donald Maitland to establish an independent company with charitable status and to secure sponsorship from the leading British energy companies. It was formally established as a company limited by guarantee in 1984, becoming a registered charity in 1985, and has been governed by its Council of voluntary officers elected by the members since then.
A full annual BIEE programme of lectures, seminars, and workshops has been held since the early 1980′s. Annual Conferences have been mainly hosted by the Universities of London, Cambridge, Oxford and Warwick. Until 2013 , the Annual General Meeting was held each October in the premises of the Royal Institute of International Affairs, where the BIEE permanent secretariat was first located. Today, most meetings are located online or in facilities provided by BIEE Council member organisations .
In 1980, 1982 and 1984, the BIEE hosted the 2nd, 4th and 6th Annual International Conferences of the IAEE in Churchill College, Cambridge, UK. They provided a convenient venue for significant exchanges between the US Administration led by James Sawhill and Professor Mory Adelman of MIT and the UK Government (Norman Lamont, Nigel Lawson or David Howell) on one side with OAPEC led by Secretary-General Ali Attiga and others on behalf of OPEC on the other. These were the first such meetings since the fall of the Shah in 1979 and second oil-price hike of 1979-80. Othermajor plenary speakers included the Chairmen of BP and Shell, Ravendra Pachauri, Dale Jorgensen, Alirio Parra, Peter Odell, Michael Telson, JohnMitchell, Phil Verleger, Fereidun Fesheraki and Sir William Hawthorne (Master of Churchill College, Cambridge). All the above contributed their papers and remarks to International Energy Options, published by OGH Cambridge, Mass) and Graham and Trotman, London in early 1981. A follow-up hardback International Energy Markets, covering the papers and exchanges of the 2002 and 2004 conferences, was published in 1985.
By 1985, the annual BIEE pamphlet Energy Economics in Britain had evolved into a 425-page hardback under that title published by G & T, London and comprising a major statement on UK energy policy by Nigel Lawson, Chancellor of the Exchequer, commissioned papers by Professors Gerald Manners, Robert Deam, Alexander Kemp and Colin Robinson and 12 papers by other prominent BIEE members. The final 40 pages of the book were devoted to a landmark history of energy economics in Britain spanning the period from Roman times to the present and written by Eric Price, Chief Economist and Under-Secretary at the UK Department of Energy. This final authoritative piece is still quoted widely in the current historical literature of the UK as well as in more general works on the global history of energy, industry and international trade.
In 30 years, the British Institute of Energy Economics has had four Presidents:
1985–1994 Lord Croham (formerly Sir Douglas Allen) who was Permanent Secretary, UK Treasury (1968–74); Head of the Home Civil Service (1974–77); Chairman BNOC (1982–85); Industrial Adviser to the Bank of England (1978-83).
1994–2003 Lord Lawson who was Secretary-of-State for Energy (1981–83) and Chancellor of the Exchequer (1983–89)
2004 -2013 Lord Howell who was Secretary-of-State for Energy (1979–81) and for Transport (1981–83)
2014 – present Charles Hendry MP who was Minister of State for Energy and Climate Change (2010-2012)