OSU moving toward privatizing its power system

Ohio State University is considering privatizing its utility system for 50 years. The contractor would take over operation and maintenance of existing utility assets, sell energy to OSU and make conservation improvements to main campus. The Chilled Water Plant East, which cools buildings, is among the assets at stake.
Ohio State University is considering privatizing its utility system for 50 years. The contractor would take over operation and maintenance of existing utility assets, sell energy to OSU and make conservation improvements to main campus. The Chilled Water Plant East, which cools buildings, is among the assets at stake.

Deal has been in the works since 2014.

Ohio State University says it is taking the next step toward becoming the largest institution nationwide to hire private companies to manage its energy systems for decades to come.

OSU Provost Bruce McPheron gave notice to staff and students on Thursday that the university will formally ask finalists to submit proposals for the massive project. The finalists in the running have not been disclosed.

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Ohio State administrators will determine by the end of the current semester whether to ask trustees to pull the trigger on it.

The university is weighing whether to hire private contractors to take control of critical assets: the utility system that heats, cools and powers more than 400 buildings on main campus. OSU would receive an undetermined amoung of upfront cash and then agree to buy its energy from the vendor. The contractor would be responsible for making energy efficiency upgrades to cut OSU consumption by 25 percent within a decade.

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The deal has been studied since at least 2014.

Ohio State is massive: 88,000 workers, students and visitors, 411 buildings, 24 million square feet of floor space, a major sports operation and medical complex spread out over 1,900 acres. Reliable energy is critical for medical treatment and care as well as scientific experiements on campus.