Mission Trails Historic Sites

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Mission Road Power Plant - City Public Services (CPS)

The Mission Road Power Plant - City Public Services (CPS) is one of the earliest and largest power plants in San Antonio. Electricity first appeared in the city in 1882 through the San Antonio Electric Company. The company owned a small arc-light generating system set up in the basement of a store on Commerce Street in Alamo Plaza. At this time electricity was carried to street lights and businesses in the plaza by means of copper cables hung on poles. In 1890, the San Antonio Electric Company bought out a competitor who had established an electricity generating facility in La Villita. The San Antonio Electric Company relocated to this facility and operated there for almost 20 years during which time the company acquired 18 generators (CPS Energy n.d.).

The turbo generators at the La Villita facility required a significant amount of water for cooling, so the plant was moved to a new location along the San Antonio River about five miles from downtown, which is the site of the Mission Road Power Plant. In 1909, the new “Station B” facility was constructed at this new location and included the turbine room and a steel-framed brick building that housed the first unit at the plant. Other buildings included a boiler house and storage warehouses. In 1923, another unit was added that significantly increased the power capacity of the facility.

In the late 1920s, the plant came to be known as the Concepcion Road Plant. At this time the electric company was known as San Antonio Public Service Company (SAPSCo) under the ownership of the American Light and Traction Company. The late 1930s and early 1940s were a time of change at Station B. This included construction of additional buildings and additions to the earlier buildings in order to increase space and power generation. Alterations were also made to the façades of several of the older buildings at this time (CPS Energy n.d.; Harris et al 2011).

Due to an antitrust law, the American Light and Traction Company was forced to sell many of its holdings including the SAPSCo, which the City of San Antonio purchased in 1942. The plant was expanded again in 1958 and remained the same size until 2003 when it was officially decommissioned. Several redevelopment projects have been considered for the property including a mixed-use commercial and residential complex as well as an auxiliary campus for the University of Texas at San Antonio (CPS Energy n.d.).

For more information about the history of the property and plans for the redevelopment of the plant see the CPS website.

Sources

  • CPS Energy

    n.d. - “History of the Mission Road Power Plant, 1909-2003,” CPS Energy Website, http://www.cpsenergy.com (Accessed April 17, 2013).

  • Harris, Brandy, Amy McWhorter, Kelley Russell, and Casey Hanson

    2011 - Historic Resources Reconnaissance Survey Report, “Mission Trails” Enhancement Project, Package V Final Hike-and-Bike Trail Amenities, San Antonio, Bexar County, Texas. TxDOT San Antonio District. Document No. 100231.PBS&J, Austin, Texas.
Location ID95
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