Oil company BP is not only planning to sell its pipelines and oil fields in Alaska as it prepares to exit the state, it also has pieces of its philanthropic efforts to hand off.
That includes the BP Energy Center, a popular building in Anchorage where nonprofits and educational groups can meet for free. It’s BP’s only big asset in Alaska that’s not included in the oil company’s proposed $5.6 billion sale to Hilcorp.
“That one we carved out so we could do something like this,” said BP Alaska President Janet Weiss.
On Tuesday, Feb. 11, BP announced it will donate the BP Energy Center property and building to The Alaska Community Foundation. The foundation has agreed to maintain the center as a free meeting space for at least the next 20 years.
“Legacy is important, and it takes all of us working together,” Weiss said. “So finding a like-minded organization that believes in meeting space, and providing that to nonprofits, that’s cool.”
Weiss talked about the transfer from her office on the top floor of the BP tower in Midtown Anchorage, just north of the Energy Center.
The donation is the latest announcement related to BP’s proposal to sell its entire Alaska business to Hilcorp in one of the state’s largest oil industry deals. It provides another part of the picture of what Alaska will look like without BP — a large, long-time employer and major player in the state’s philanthropic sector.
BP will continue to operate the center until its pending deal with Hilcorp is approved, according to The Alaska Community Foundation.
Elizabeth Miller, the foundation’s vice president of communications and development, said it’s an honor to carry on BP’s legacy “by continuing to operate the BP Energy Center as a community meeting center for nonprofits and education organizations.”
Miller said the BP Energy Center’s name won’t change.
There also won’t be any cancellations or disruptions of scheduled events at the center, the foundation says.
The Energy Center opened in 2002, and BP says hundreds of organizations use it each year. Its upcoming events range from a breastfeeding conference to community council meetings to a sustainable agriculture conference.
The schedule also includes “Wildlife Wednesdays” hosted monthly by the Alaska Wildlife Alliance. The free talks about bears, king crabs and seabirds wouldn’t be possible without the center, said Mandy Migura, the nonprofit’s deputy director.
“We don’t have a budget to pay room fees,” she said. “So it has been a really great experience, centrally located in Anchorage with free parking, so a lot of folks like that. And it has enabled us to offer this as a part of our education outreach program.”
A fund set aside by BP at The Alaska Community Foundation will be used to pay for the Energy Center’s future operational costs, Miller said. The foundation is also managing Hilcorp’s employee giving program.