Range Fuels lays off workers in Colorado, Georgia

By Kris Bevill | January 11, 2011

Broomfield, Colo.-based cellulosic biofuels producer Range Fuels Inc. confirmed it has laid off employees at both its headquarters in Broomfield and its production facility in Soperton, Ga., but is not releasing details on the number of layoffs or what factors led to the decision to reduce the company’s workforce. “A handful of people in Colorado and Georgia were impacted by the layoffs,” the company said in a statement to EPM, declining to elaborate further.

Range Fuels began constructing its Soperton cellulosic ethanol plant in 2008. The company intends to ultimately increase the plant’s capacity to 100 MMgy, but the current installed capacity is 10 MMgy. Production of methanol began at the facility last August. At the time of the methanol production announcement, company officials said cellulosic ethanol production was expected to commence by the third quarter of 2010 and work would begin to expand the plant’s capacity to 60 MMgy in mid-2011.

In November, the U.S. EPA said it expects Range Fuels to produce 100,000 gallons of cellulosic ethanol and 2.9 million gallons of methanol from wood chips and other woody biomass at its Soperton Plant in 2011. The agency noted that there is no approved pathway to generate RINs (renewable identification numbers) for methanol and stated that “the opportunities for using methanol in the transportation fuel market are limited.” Nevertheless, the EPA agreed to work with Range Fuels to develop RIN-generating pathways for cellulosic methanol.

Range Fuels said it is working to compile the necessary information for the EPA to conduct its evaluation for a new RIN-generating pathway and it expects to have that step of the process complete “within the coming weeks.” In response to inquiries regarding production levels at the Soperton Plant, the company said the plant “is running and is producing methanol and we expect to produce ethanol this week.”