Climate Action Board recommends including the city in the UI public-private-partnership decision

The Iowa City Climate Action Advisory Board recommends that the city be included in the decision on the UI’s proposed public-private partnership.


David Harmantas

Steam swirls around the University of Iowa Power Plant on the evening of Monday, Jan. 14, 2019.

Kelsey Harrell, News Reporter

The Iowa City City Council has received a letter from the Iowa City Climate Action Advisory Board recommending that the city be a stakeholder throughout the process concerning the proposed public-private partnership with the University of Iowa’s utilities system.

While it was one of many pieces of correspondence on the agenda at Tuesday’s meeting, the City Council did not discuss the correspondence at that time. 

The climate-action plan adopted by the city has a goal of reducing greenhouse-gas emissions 26 to 28 percent by 2025 and 80 percent by 2050. The UI coal use at the Power Plant accounts for 15 percent of emissions in the city, the letter said.

RELATED: UI exploring public-private partnership for utility system

“The public private partnership announced by the university is an opportune moment to shape and solidify the university’s commitment to reducing greenhouse-gas emissions in our community,” the letter said.

The current timeline for the selection (or not) of a partner does not include a process for stakeholder engagement or for engagement with the city and community members, the letter said.

However, the UI has held several public-information sessions on campus to engage the community and will host two more on May 1 and 2.

RELATED: UI takes steps to partner with firm to maintain utility system 

Through the social, economic, and environmental impact of the partnership will have on the city, not including stakeholder engagement could affect the city in an undesirable way, the letter said.

“With a contract as ambitious and extensive as is proposed, representatives from Iowa City must be brought into the process to ensure that any contract signed affirms the best results for all who will be affected,” the letter said. 

UI officials have emphasized that any potential partner must commit to the UI’s sustainability goals, among other factors, to be chosen.

The UI begun the initial steps for seeking a partner for the maintenance and operation of the utility system. Firms interested in partnering with the UI must submit their proposals to Wells Fargo, one of three companies consulting the UI during the exploration process, by 3 p.m. E.D.T  on June 14.