At issue is a deal announced in December 2019 awarding two French companies a 50-year contract to operate the University of Iowa’s utility system. University of Iowa Energy Collaborative Holdings LLC, a joint venture of global energy company ENGIE and asset manager Meridiam, paid the school $1.165 billion up front, the majority of which the school is investing in an endowment. In return, the university will pay the companies a yearly fee starting at $35 million that after five years will increase by 1.5% annually.
While this story calls this — the so-called P3 — a deal to operate the University of Iowa’s utilities, it’s much closer to a equity loan: the university gets a chunk of cash up front and pays back an escalating set amount each year; though university utilities employees are now employed by University of Iowa Energy Collaborative Holdings LLC, a joint venture of global energy company ENGIE and asset manager Meridiam, the university is still also on the hook for many of the costs associated with running the plant.
Anyway, after some sleepy years under Mary Mosiman, the Iowa State Auditor’s office is doing good work under Rob Sand (the best thing folks could say for Mosiman was she was a CPA unlike Sand, who, um…has his own watchdog credentials).
Can you imagine working for a state agency and believing you had the right to secret meetings and records? Oh, I guess that’s a thing now.