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EMU's plan to sell control of its utilities to private company raises concerns

Eastern Michigan University
Eastern Michigan University

Eastern Michigan University’s plan to sell control of the operations of its utilities is being called into question. An online forum hosted by local politicians and union leaders will take place on Thursday to examine the deal.

EMU’s heating, cooling, electric and water utilities would be managed by CenTrio, under the name Eagle Energy Partners. The school would receive $115 million in a deal that will last 50 years.

Matt Kirkpatrick is the president of the EMU chapter of the American Association of University Professors. He says the speed of this deal and a lack of transparency is a concern.

“Part of it is about needing money and that we get that the university has things it needs to do, it needs to operate but that privatizing parking, privatizing power, privatizing dining have long-term repercussions for the university.”

EMU said in a statement when the deal was announced in April that it stands to save between $2 and $3 million annually. EMU spokesperson Walter Kraft says the $115 million the university will receive will go a long way.

“These partnerships provide us with up-front dollars that allow us to do things and invest in our campus and in our students in ways that we are otherwise unable to do.”

The plan is to use those savings to help reduce the school’s debt, invest in academic programs, student persistence and retention, and recruitment efforts.

Click here to register for the online forum (via Zoom)

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Josh Hakala is the general assignment reporter for the WEMU news department.
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