Celanese plans coal-to-gas conversion at Virginia plant

Celanese Corp. (NYSE: CE) will invest $150m in its Giles County, Va., operation to replace its coal-fired boilers with natural gas-fired boilers.

The project, in conjunction with other efforts at the site, will enable creation of at least 22 full-time Celanese positions and will require about 200 construction workers, said an Oct. 31 announcement from Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell. Celanese manufactures cellulose acetate tow, which is derived from wood pulp, at the plant.

“Celanese is one of the largest employers and offers some of the best-paying jobs in the region,” McDonnell said. “Converting the Giles County facility to natural gas demonstrates that the company is really investing in the future of the operation. This tremendous investment will allow the plant to improve its energy production capability, while positioning Celanese for profitable growth and job creation in the years ahead.”

“This project is significant for both Celanese and Giles County,” said Jim Cheng, Virginia Secretary of Commerce and Trade. “Natural gas is a cleaner energy source, thus reducing the company’s carbon footprint. And this significant investment helps ensure that Giles County will retain a valued employer and corporate partner and gain an additional 22 well-paid positions.”

“Celanese is excited about the opportunity this project represents, particularly in the areas of improved reliability and favorable progress against our environmental and sustainability goals,” said Lou Purvis, vice president, general manager, Celanese Acetate.

Celanese is a Fortune 500 global technology and specialty materials company that engineers and manufactures a wide variety of products included in end-use application such as paints and coatings, textiles and automotive applications. Its Giles County plant, in operation since 1939, is one of the world’s largest producers of cellulose acetate tow.

The Virginia Economic Development Partnership worked with Giles County and the New River Valley Economic Development Alliance to secure the project for Virginia. McDonnell approved a $500,000 grant from the Governor’s Opportunity Fund to assist Giles County with the project. McDonnell also approved a $1.5m performance-based grant from the Virginia Investment Partnership program, an incentive available to existing Virginia companies.

About Barry Cassell 20414 Articles
Barry Cassell is Chief Analyst for GenerationHub covering coal and emission controls issues, projects and policy. He has covered the coal and power generation industry for more than 24 years, beginning in November 2011 at GenerationHub and prior to that as editor of SNL Energy’s Coal Report. He was formerly with Coal Outlook for 15 years as the publication’s editor and contributing writer, and prior to that he was editor of Coal & Synfuels Technology and associate editor of The Energy Report. He has a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University.