Ohio State Settles On Bid To Privatize Energy Assets

Mar 31, 2017

Ohio State University says it’s moving forward with a plan to privatize its energy production.

A university release says the school is focused on a bid from Paris-based energy company ENGIE and investment firm Axion Infrastructure. It calls for them to make a one-time payment of $1.015 billion to the Ohio State endowment, and $150 million to support academics in areas requested by students, faculty and staff during the bidding process.

Ohio State says it would be the largest single investment ever in the university's academic mission.

In return for the up-front money, Ohio State would pay a new entity called Ohio State Energy Partners $55 million a year to operate its energy assets, which include McCracken Power Plant.

The deal does not require Ohio State to buy power from Ohio State Energy Partners, but officials expect them to offer better prices than competitors.

The proposal still needs approval from Ohio State trustees, who are expected to vote next Friday.

The agreement also includes a new $50 million Energy Advancement and Innovation Center for energy research and technology commercialization.

A written statement from university president Michael Drake says the partnership “would position us as an international leader in energy and sustainability and further strengthen Ohio State as a national flagship public research university.”

The move to outsource energy would continue a recent trend of privatization at Ohio State, including the privatization of parking operations in 2012.

Ohio State's decision to solicit bids for its energy operations angered many of the 52 employees who would be affected by the deal. About half of those workers are in labor unions.

The bid calls for the contractor to offer jobs to all affected workers. Ohio State has said employees who don’t want to transfer to the new company would be placed in another job at the university with similar pay.