A recent headline in the Philadelphia Inquirer read: “Scott’s toilet paper plant is on a roll in Chester thanks to the pandemic,” but there is much more to the Kimberly-Clark Corporation’s 570-employee plant’s success than the COVID-19 pandemic. Moreover, the structures undergirding the plant and its accompanying successes will serve Pennsylvania for decades.
First, prior to the pandemic Kimberly-Clark spent about $150 million in upgrading its production plant. Much of this expense was used to retire a coal-fired cogeneration plant in favor of a natural gas cogeneration with 24 megawatts of capacity. As Maykuth noted in his Inquirer piece, the conversion will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by half as a function of natural gas being less carbon intensive than coal when generating electricity.
This project and conversion are possible because of the buildout of energy infrastructure in Pennsylvania. Specifically, the Adelphia Gateway pipeline feeds directly into the plant to fuel its operation. Plant managers praised the pipeline, which originally carried oil, for its ability to help reduce complexity at the plant and offer costs savings.
Natural gas’ environmental and affordability merits are far too often overlooked. Emissions reductions are possible by displacing coal-fired energy and the accessibility / abundance of natural gas in the Commonwealth means savings are substantial.
Second, this story reiterates the necessity of natural gas and energy accessibility to power manufacturing and critical jobs during the ongoing pandemic. Natural gas has kept the Pennsylvania economy moving, allowed for the continued production of things like toilet paper, and even contributed to the manufacturing of personal protective equipment as seen at the Braskem plant in SEPA.
Natural gas and energy infrastructure have proven themselves time and again to be worthwhile and rewarding investments for communities to make. The Adelphia Gateway project has served Pennsylvania for many years and in various roles, currently as power conduit for the Kimberly-Clark plant.