COMMERCE CITY — Los Angeles-based Rentech, Inc., announced Thursday that it will close its Commerce City research and development plant in the coming weeks.
The move, announced in a Feb. 28 press release, will cut about 65 jobs — both employee and contractor — at the plant as Rentech switches to “more immediate growth opportunities within the energy industry that do not rely on new technologies,” the release stated.
While work will cease at the plant, Rentech plans to “mothball” the facility in hopes of selling the facility along with a 450-acre property in Natchez, Miss., that was planned for an alternative energy facility.
According to the release, Rentech expects to save $31 million in expenses related to research work while also completing requirements related to the federal Department of Energy integrated biorefinery project grant.
“We are grateful to our employees for their dedication and tremendous effort to successfully develop innovative and workable technologies for alternative energy production,” said Rentech President and CEO D. Hunt Ramsbottom in the release. “While our elimination of these positions is a difficult decision, today’s actions will further position Rentech to drive value for shareholders by cutting R&D spending and focusing on businesses that generate strong returns, with ready markets, and certainty of revenue.”
Rentech, which previously had its headquarters in Denver, built the $90-million facility in Commerce City near the Suncor refinery with an eye on formulating jet and diesel fuel from coal, natural gas and biomass sources.
Despite a number of technological accomplishments and patented work, Rentech cited a lack of government incentives and “the high cost to develop new technologies” as part of its rationale for shuttering its research and development facility.