COLUMBUS, Ohio -- The Ohio State University Board of Trustees approved the Comprehensive Energy Management Project, a public-private partnership that promises to modernize the university’s Columbus campus, create substantial academic benefits and establish a major center for energy research and technology commercialization.
The board approved a 50-year agreement with Ohio State Energy Partners, which consists of energy company ENGIE North America and Axium Infrastructure, an investment firm. The partnership is valued at $1.165 billion, which includes a $1.015 billion upfront payment to the university and a $150 million commitment to support academics, including financial aid and compensation for faculty and staff. It is the largest single investment in Ohio State’s academic mission.
The Comprehensive Energy Management Project promises to modernize the university’s 485-building Columbus campus, create substantial academic benefits and establish a major center for energy research and technology commercialization.
"This partnership would position us as an international leader in energy and sustainability and further strengthen Ohio State as a national flagship public research university," said President Michael V. Drake.
Initially, the proceeds of the upfront payment would be invested in Ohio State’s endowment, dedicated to priorities being finalized in the university’s strategic plan. These areas of investment include the following:
- Student financial aid to support access, affordability and excellence
- Compensation enhancements for faculty and staff to support competitiveness with academic peers; a portion of this will be tied to improvements in teaching effectiveness
- Classrooms, research labs and performance and arts spaces across disciplines
- A fund to enhance sustainability efforts
- Other strategic initiatives
The proposal includes a $50 million Energy Advancement and Innovation Center for energy research and technology commercialization. The center would create a hub where faculty members, students, alumni, ENGIE researchers, local entrepreneurs and industry experts work together on the next generation of smart energy systems, renewable energy and green mobility solutions.
"In total these enhancements would position Ohio State to take immediate and substantial steps forward in faculty excellence, quality of our physical space and as a hub of research on energy and sustainability," said Provost and Executive Vice President Bruce A. McPheron. "Within 10 years, conservation measures would improve our energy efficiency by 25 percent, reducing our carbon footprint."
ENGIE-Axium would provide additional and significant capital funding to accomplish this energy efficiency goal.
Representative groups from the university community evaluated either the academic collaboration, technical or human resources components of the final bids. A fourth group of senior staff evaluated the financial components separately. The groups worked in parallel. Each concluded independently that ENGIE-Axium was the strongest bidder.
ENGIE-Axium would offer employment to all eligible Ohio State utility workers. Those who prefer instead to remain employees of the university would be offered alternative positions at Ohio State at their current compensation levels.
SOURCE: Ohio State University