Small alternative energy companies outshine industry giants

Median B.C. employment has grown 12.5% since 2016 low

Employment at five of B.C.’s biggest alternative energy companies has grown an average of 24.95% since 2015.

However, a disproportionate 98.3% increase in the number of B.C. employees at Innergex Renewable Energy Inc. hides the fact that most of the top five companies analyzed recorded significantly less growth. Over the past five years, Innergex increased its B.C. employee base to 117 from 59, a growth rate – attributable to the company’s acquisition of Alterra Power Corp. in early 2018 – that was exceptional relative to the other companies on the list.

Schneider Electric Canada, B.C.’s biggest alternative energy company, has had no employee growth year-to-year since 2015, and Westport Fuel Systems Inc., No. 3 on Business in Vancouver’s Biggest Alternative Energy Companies in B.C. list, has reduced its number of employees in B.C. 57.8% from 460 in 2015 to 194.

Despite a lack of growth among the top industry players, smaller alternative energy companies on BIV’s list have been steadily increasing their employee count, particularly after a 2016 low.

In 2016, the median B.C. employee head count at the province’s biggest alternative energy companies was 20; a year later it had grown 100% to 40. Since then, the median B.C. head count has increased 12.5% to 45 in 2019.

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The industry as a whole suffered a decline in 2016, and the average employee head count for alternative energy companies in the province has not returned to pre-2016 levels, which suggests that larger companies higher on BIV’s list have grown slower than their smaller counterparts. The average B.C. head count of the companies on the list has increased only 1.8% since 2015 compared with the median, which grew 18.4% during the same time period.

Note: This story has been corrected with updated numbers for Innergex Renewable Energy Inc.