OSU looks to private sector for energy management

Ohio State University has issued an RFQ exploring the possibility of outsourcing the management of its energy systems under a 50-year concession.

Through a recently-launched Request for Qualifications (RFQ), Ohio State University (OSU) is seeking expressions of interest from the private sector for the management of its energy systems at its Columbus Campus, the university’s largest and primary campus.

The “energy management opportunity”, as OSU refers to it, involves a 50-year concession and lease comprising four major components: the operation and maintenance of the utility system, the procurement of the energy supply, the implementation of an energy savings strategy and the development of an affinity relationship with OSU and its stakeholders.

Interested parties have until April 6 to submit a statement of qualifications (SOQ) for one or more or all of the four components of the concession. They cannot, however, express interest in operating and maintaining only part of the utility system, which comprises an electric supply management and distribution system, a chilled water system, a steam and condensate system, and a natural gas and geothermal system.

The university is considering this option “to strengthen its sustainability efforts” as well as providing “new resources for its academic mission,” according to the RFQ.

Ohio State is seeking to realise value through a substantial upfront payment  and achieve energy savings goals, the university stated in the RFQ, adding that the concessionaire will receive a return on its investment during the term of the concession through the rate-setting mechanisms that will be defined in the agreement.

Located in Ohio’s capital, OSU’s Columbus Campus is one of the largest individual campuses of any university or college in the US, both in terms of total enrollment and full-time equivalent enrollment. With approximately 58,000 students and more than 30,000 employees, the Columbus Campus, which consists of more than 400 buildings, supports 87,000 people daily.

In addition to operating and maintaining the school’s utility system, the concessionaire will also be expected to make capital investments in the system to meet OSU’s evolving needs.

Interested parties are also encouraged to include proposals for related projects such as providing similar services for the university’s other four regional campuses, as well as including the in-building equipment related to the utility system.

OSU has drawn attention before for its innovative partnerships with the private sector. In July 2012, it became the first US university to privatise its parking (35,000 on-campus parking spaces), allowing it to receive a lump sum of $483 million from QIC Infrastructure Group and LAZ Parking in exchange for a 50-year concession.