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University Senate calls special session in response to energy privatization

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Ohio State wants to enter a more-than $1-billion contract for its energy systems with France-based ENGIE-Axium. Credit: Lantern File Photo

The University Senate Steering Committee, along with its two undergraduate student representatives, met Thursday to discuss the next University Senate meeting agenda. However, upon release of OSU’s proposed 50-year, private-public energy partnership with ENGIE-Axium, the committee decided to call for a special session for Tuesday at 4:15 p.m. in Drinko Hall.

The meeting will be open to the public.

Earlier Thursday an announcement was made about the more-than $1-billion deal proposed between the university and ENGIE-Axium. The deal — subject to approval by OSU’s Board of Trustees next week — would result in the university receiving an upfront of $1 billion, as well as $150 million to put towards academics, such as financial aid for students and compensatory enhancements for faculty.

OSU, in turn, would pay ENGIE-Axium $45 million each year, as well as a 1.5 percent increase to cover inflation; an operating fee starting around $9.2 million to cover the cost of maintenance; and a variable fee tied to unknown capital investments.

The call for a special session is rare, and perhaps something that has never been done before, said Gerard Basalla, Undergraduate Student Government president and a fourth-year in strategic communication and political science.

“There’s no information on another (called upon session) like this happening,” He said.

Basalla and Danielle Di Scala, a fourth-year in political science and the vice president of USG, act as student members on the University Senate’s Steering Committee.

Basalla said the energy privatization proposal is something that students, faculty and administrators want to discuss, and they will have the option to do so at the special session.

Because the meeting is open to the public, all that are interested have the opportunity to hear more details about the proposed plan, voice their opinions and discuss the partnership.

This discussion could perhaps result in the University Senate voting on whether or not they approve of disapprove of the partnership, though this vote is not the deciding factor on whether or not OSU will go through with the proposal.

“Our role is advisory in a way,” Basalla said. “It’s not necessarily that… we wouldn’t decide you can’t do it. If there was a vote it would just say this is what the University Senate thinks.”

This vote would be made available for the Board of Trustees to review before the Board votes on the ENGIE-Axium partnership.

“We’ll see what happens at the meeting,” Basalla said.  

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