33-year PPP contract awarded to modernize central utility plant at California State University, Fresno Campus

University campus in a sunset


Meridiam-led consortium and its partner NORESCO (together known as “Bulldog Infrastructure Group”) have been selected as the developer for a 33-year public-private partnership (P3) contract to modernize and maintain Fresno State’s central utility infrastructure system.

The contract — valued at about $170 million — will address the campus hot- and chilled-water generation and distribution piping network providing more than 25,000 students, faculty and staff with energy-efficient and reliable heating and cooling. In addition to the construction of a new central utility plant, the project includes photovoltaic solar panels that will be built over existing campus parking lots to generate clean energy and energy conservation measures within buildings to reduce campus energy usage and carbon footprint.

The California State University Board of Trustees approved the development of the Central Utility Plant Replacement project on January 27th and has authorized the execution of agreements necessary to complete the transaction.

This project serves as an important example for the growing campus energy P3 sector in the U.S. Many U.S. universities are increasingly turning to public-private partnerships that provide access to alternate financing methods and private-sector expertise, in order to tackle aging campus infrastructure needs and allow for future campus growth, while accelerating the transition to lower carbon energy generation.

“I am especially pleased that this innovative P3 partnership also includes hands-on experiences for our students, through six paid internships per semester plus two $2,500 scholarships annually throughout the term of the agreement,” said Fresno State Interim President Saúl Jiménez-Sandoval. “Our students majoring in construction management, environmental science, sustainability and engineering for the ‘green collar’ job workforce will benefit from this partnership. In addition, there will be professional development opportunities for our faculty and staff.”


Deborah Adishian-Astone, vice president for Administration and chief financial officer, who spearheaded the project for the University, said the Central Utility Plant Replacement Project is “critically important for our campus.”

“This is the first major utility infrastructure project utilizing a P3 delivery method for the CSU system. Our central utility plant was originally built in 1954 and has had limited upgrades over the years. It has definitely exceeded its useful life and failure is a constant threat.”

Deborah Adishian-Astone

Vice President for Administration and Chief Financial Officer

With an enrollment of over 25,000, Fresno State is a leading Central California university, boasting a richly diverse mix of students and faculty. It offers 71 undergraduate degree programs, 48 master’s degrees, three doctorates in educational leadership, physical therapy and nursing practice, and nine certificates of advanced studies. The University was founded as a two-year state normal school with 150 students in 1911, largely to prepare teachers. Now in its second century, Fresno State’s bold excellence prepares students for productive careers and responsible world citizenship. Learn more here.

Bulldog Infrastructure Group comprises Meridiam as its manager and sole equity investor, NORESCO as both the lead contractor and maintenance provider and GLHN as the lead engineer.

“Meridiam is eager to provide a modern and resilient energy system to the University and is looking forward to the long-term partnership with Fresno State and CSU System that could provide benefits to the larger Fresno community as a whole,” said Jamie Rubin, CEO of Meridiam Infrastructure North America.

Meridiam is a leading developer, investor and long-term manager of sustainable infrastructure projects with 90 projects in its global portfolio, including the recently closed University of Iowa Utility System P3.

“NORESCO is excited to be helping Fresno State make this innovative approach to its campus energy assets a reality.”

Randy Clark

NORESCO Senior Vice President

NORESCO, a part of Carrier Global Corporation, is one of the largest energy services companies in the U.S. with more than 36 years of experience in delivering energy infrastructure and efficiency projects subject to key performance indicators. GLHN Architects & Engineers specializes in utility master planning, design of central plants and distribution systems, with significant experience in the campus energy subsector.

As part of the modernization project, Bulldog Infrastructure Group will implement renewable energy generation and energy conservation measures, with a target to provide significant energy savings to Fresno State during the 33-year contract, with more than 30% of energy savings expected in the first year of operation. The project also illustrates Bulldog Infrastructure Group’s commitment and contribution to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, namely:

  • Sustainable Development Goal 7 (Affordable and Clean Energy) and Sustainable Development Goal 13 (Climate Action): generating clean energy and reducing greenhouse gas emissions through the implementation of solar panels on campus.
  • Sustainable Development Goals 10 (Reduced Inequalities) with the target inclusion of 25% of local small business enterprises.
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