More bad news about cellulosic biofuel maker Range Fuels. The financially-strapped company reportedly plans to shut down its plant in Georgia after making just one batch of ethanol. It needs to more raise more money and tackle technical problems at its first commercial plant.
By Ucilia Wang, GigaOMThe bad news about the layoffs at cellulosic biofuel maker Range Fuels just got worse. The financially-strapped company plans to shut down its plant in Georgia after making just one batch of ethanol, according to a post by Georgia Public Broadcasting. The story quoted Bud Klepper, who’s not only Range Fuels’ technical advisor but also the original founder of the company that became Range Fuels (previously called Kergy). Klepper told the publication that Range Fuels is laying off most of its employees at its plant near Soperton, Ga, after it makes a single batch of ethanol, and the company will shut down the plant while it tackles technical problems and raises more money. We guess that when the company told us earlier this week that it expected to start producing ethanol this week, it really meant it would produce just a single batch, followed by throwing in the towel on the plant and workers. That’s kind of like saying I’m going to start writing my novel this week, and then typing the title and calling it a day. Range Fuels company spokesman Patrick Wright told us earlier this week that the company was letting go “a handful of people in Colorado and Georgia,” but he declined to disclose the number or reasons. Wright also said the company plans to meet a 2011 production goal set by the U.S. Environmental Agency. Range Fuels, which is backed by investors including Khosla Ventures, has gotten quite a bit of public money to get its first commercial plant up and running. The U.S. Department of Energy awarded the company a grant of $76 million in 2007 to finance the Georgia plant. The U.S. Department of Agriculture approved a loan guarantee of $80 million, and that allowed the company to secure an $80 million bond in 2010 to fund the plant’s construction as well. In between, the company raised a private B round of over $100 million from investors including Khosla, Passport Capital, BlueMountain, Leaf Clean Energy Company and Pacific Capital Group (with participation by the California Employee Retirement System).