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Powerhouse Science Center Eyes Larger Location In Old PG&E Plant


Operators of the Powerhouse Science Center for children hope to build a new facility closer to downtown Sacramento.

The Sacramento City Council last night gave its blessing to an application for a special type of bond funding that would allow the city and the science center to pay for more than half of the project without interest. It also requires approval from the Sacramento County Office of Education. 

The science center on Auburn Boulevard welcomes about 75,000 people each year.

Harry Laswell is the Interim Director of the Powerhouse. He says attendance could reach 300,000 if the center moves to the site of the old PG&E Power Plant on Jibboom Street.

"Solving today's problems really requires scientists and engineers of the future," Laswell says, "and we've got to get kids interested in science in grade school, and Powerhouse Science Center plays a powerful role in doing that."

The project is expected to cost $52 million.

Laswell says more than half of the funding would come from Qualified Zone Academy Bonds if the project is approved by the California Department of Education.

"It's a type of tax credit financing where the federal government picks up the interest payment in effect," he says.

The science center wants the City to pay off about half of the bonds. But, the City has not agreed to the proposal.

The remaining $22 million would come from donors and other sources.

Laswell says the new center would measure 55,000 square feet.

It would keep the facade of the old PG&E Power Plant, which is on the National Register of Historic Places.

Bob Moffitt

Sacramento Region Reporter

Bob reports on all things northern California and Nevada. His coverage of police technology, local athletes, and the environment has won a regional Associated Press and several Edward R. Murrow awards.   Read Full Bio 

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