Potential partners to submit a request for proposal

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Thursday, July 11, 2019

The University of Iowa is continuing its exploration of a potential public-private partnership (P3) with its utility system, moving forward from the request for qualification (RFQ) stage to the request for proposal (RFP) stage. The campus community will have two new opportunities to share feedback about the proposal.

“Following a rigorous RFQ process, which involved shared governance and academic leadership, we are ready to take the next step in our exploration,” says UI President J. Bruce Harreld. “The potential partners in this next round have illustrated a commitment to our employees, ensuring the UI is coal free by 2025 and the additional responsibilities we outlined toward a sustainable future.”

Under a P3, the UI will maintain ownership of its utility system while entering into a professional services agreement with a third party. This agreement will provide the UI with an upfront payment that the university will place into an endowment. The annual proceeds realized from the endowment will be invested in the core missions of the university (teaching, research, and scholarship), as well as the strategies outlined in the UI’s Strategic Plan 2016–2021, which was approved by the Board of Regents, State of Iowa, in 2016.

The university included the following commitments as part of the RFQ process:

  • The university will be able to operate the plant without burning coal no later than Jan. 1, 2025.
  • The new plant operator will continue to explore new sources of renewable fuels, creating sustainable, lower-cost fuel options.
  • All facilities will be maintained by the new operator in similar or better condition.  
  • Campuswide sustainability efforts will be continued.

The UI expects that the new operating entity would offer many UI employees involved in the P3 a position with their company. Those utility system employees who are not offered a position or choose not to move to the new operating entity will retain a university position.  

“We value our employees and, as we’ve stressed throughout this exploration process, the intent of the P3 is not to reduce staff,” says Rod Lehnertz, UI senior vice president for finance and operations. “It is our people in utilities and energy management that have made our system a best practice model in higher education.”

Through an active shared governance process the UI was able to refine the RFQ in order to ensure an outcome that is in the best interest of the university and its constituents. The next stages of issuing the RFP and allocating resources will also provide significant opportunity for campus feedback. The updated schedule includes two more information sessions for the campus community:

  • Summer 2019: RFP released
  • Sept. 23: Information session on the east side of campus, 9 to 10 a.m. in the Iowa Theater, Iowa Memorial Union, room 166
  • Sept. 24: Information session on the west side of campus, 11 a.m. to noon in the Urmila Sahai Conference Room, Medical Education Research Facility, room 2117
  • Fall semester 2019: RFPs reviewed
  • Fall semester 2019: Board of Regents evaluation 
  • Late fall semester 2019: Agreement signed 
  • FY22: Resources first allocated 

“The UI is committed to delivering on our mission of education and research excellence—and our university has continually met the challenges set before it through hard work, ingenuity, and collaboration. That can-do spirit will once again allow us to determine our own future. This is our charge, and this is a potential opportunity to make that happen,” says Harreld.

For updates and more information, visit uiowa.edu/p3.

Please note: The timeline has been adjusted as the exploration process has progressed.