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REC Silicon scaling back Butte operations due to increased electricity costs

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Posted at 1:50 PM, Feb 08, 2024

BUTTE — REC Silicon announced on Wednesday that it is shutting down its polysilicon business in Butte once current supply obligations are met.

In a press release, the company, which provides polysilicon and silicon gas to the solar and electronics industries, said the shutdown is due to increased electricity pricing in the region.

The release said discontinuing polysilicon production in Butte will “significantly reduce annual energy consumption and operating costs,” and that “short and mid-term increased electricity pricing in the region is not expected to abate and will not allow for profitable operations in the polysilicon business line.”

According to the release, polysilicon operations will continue for six to nine months to fulfill current customer obligations. Once those are met, the release says, “the company expects that the workforce in Butte will be reduced accordingly, along with some others across the company that support the Butte business line.”

The release did not state how many employees would be impacted by the polysilicon business shutdown. REC Silicon will continue to run its silicon gases business, according to the company’s CEO, Kurt Levens.

“We did everything in our power to return profitability to the polysilicon business in Butte, however, forecasts for sustained high electricity costs that are outside of our control necessitated this decision. After the transition has been fully executed, we expect an accretive impact to our earnings. Most importantly, we will have full focus on Butte’s globally leading silicon gases business. We will work towards executing more investment and product opportunities available due to that leading position as well as the tailwinds the Chips, IRA and Infrastructure Acts are providing,” Levens stated in the release.

REC Silicon’s Butte plant was commissioned in 1998 and employs almost 300 Butte-Silver Bow County residents, according to the company’s website.