As the Delco Times reported today, changes are coming to the ChesCo skyline. The outlet broke news earlier that Kimberly Clark has begun the demolition process in a broader conversion project to its Industrial Highway area plant.
The 1.8 million square foot facility will be updated to a 26-megawatt co-generation operation utilizing natural gas instead of coal for energy generation, per plant manager Jeff Hutter. Importantly, many in the area will benefit from this project. It is expected to invest around $150 million, will maintain its 570 jobs, and will help curb carbon emissions by 150,000 metric tons, a cut by roughly 40%.
The Kimberly Clark plant has been a part of SEPA for decades but is changing with the times; its conversion from coal to natural gas is an important bellwether and development for the state’s energy infrastructure.
To foster the development and production of Pennsylvania natural gas – which in turn begets lower carbon emissions, economic development, and job creation – the infrastructure must precede wells and new production. The old adage of not putting the cart before the horse is truly applicable to Pennsylvania natural gas.
For our energy sector to be effective, necessary channels must be in place first, essentially the horse. This means pipeline infrastructure and processing facilities.
Natural gas is also helping improve the state’s energy portfolio, reducing our reliance on coal. The more resources we are able to incorporate the stronger and more resilient our baseload, this means plenty of preparedness for cold Pennsylvania winters and the opportunity to lower costs in residential and commercial settings.
What’s more, natural gas development brings with it the opportunity to update old infrastructure. Much of the story of the Kimberly Clark plant is its thirty-year history in the area. It will now join modern energy infrastructure projects thanks to natural gas, and should set an example to other operators in the state for what is possible.
All in all the Kimberly Clark project is a welcome development for Pennsylvania and natural gas. Every day we are seeing improvement and progress.