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CPS Energy Readies Old Power Plant For Nonprofit

Filthy water spews from a pipe the diameter of a baseball into what looks like a storage container. CPS Energy is capping this artesian well--the last of four--that used to feed the adjacent gas-fired power plant. The plant is now an empty husk with patches of native grass growing three feet high on the roof and areas with broken glass and animal scat inside. 

Credit Paul Flahive

Kimberly Britton doesn't see that though. She sees possibility.

"So I think this is one of the prettiest views of the entire space," says Britton having walked to the second floor overlooking the cavernous space.

Credit Paul Flahive

She sees a 65,000 square foot complex where clean energy technology is developed called the EPIcenter, or Energy Partnerships and Innovation center. Britton is the executive director of EPIcenter and wants it to be an exhibition space, think tank, technology incubator, venue, and fabrication lab.

"This bottom level is what I want to show you. When we talk about hosting conferences, and potentially summits and trade shows and other community events, this is where we would be talking about doing it. You're talking about a 400-seat auditorium," Britton says.

Credit Lake | Flato

We wear hard hats as she walks me through the bowels of the 100-year-old skeleton that sits alongside Roosevelt Park. If you are running on the Mission Reach, it has that red brick smokestack behind a razer wire covered fence. 

CPS announced its intent to create a clean energy center through an independent nonprofit a few years ago, but it's only now that things are starting to take shape. The EPIcenter nonprofit has an executive director. They recently chose an engineering firm. CPS will give the property over to EPIcenter this year, and that well we heard being capped is one of the final infrastructure pieces before that property transfer can happen.

Then it is all about raising the money.

"Because it is a $74 million project with this $53.5 million roughly that we need to raise," says Britton.

That number is big, and they aren't sure it will cover everything. Friday, they sit down with stakeholders and their board of directors to hash out those costs, and strategize how to sell it to donors.

Paul Flahive can be reached at Paul@tpr.org