Phase 2: Preparation
Write the Request for Proposals
If your organization requires or prefers a competitive bid process, you will need to issue a request for proposals (RFP). The RFP can be fairly broad, allowing solar professionals to offer their recommended system design and specifications, or fairly specific, to compare bids on pre-determined project specifications. We have provided common elements of an RFP and an RFP template in our full user’s guide. If managing an RFP process seems daunting, you can choose to work with a trusted, well-credentialed solar installer that will provide all of these tasks and scope of work.
If your organization requires or prefers a competitive bid process, you will need to issue a request for proposals (RFP). The RFP can be fairly broad, allowing solar professionals to offer their recommended system design and specifications, or fairly specific, to compare bids on pre-determined project specifications. This guide contains an RFP template that you can tailor to your needs. NOTE: If managing an RFP process seems daunting, you can choose to work with a trusted, well-credentialed solar installer that will provide all of these tasks and scope of work in the aforementioned.
The following section is a walk-through of the RFP template, with the main terminology defined.
Request for Proposals
A request for proposals (RFP) is a document that outlines your proposed solar project’s scope of work for potential solar installers to review and respond to. The RFP also is a chance to outline specific qualifications that the chosen solar contractor should have, as well as any additional terms.
The cover page of the RFP should contain the most important information – the deadline for submitting proposals, contact information for the person that proposals should be submitted to and any other time-sensitive information. Briefly mention how the project is to be financed and include your annual kWh usage, where you are considering the solar array placement, and the exact address of the building roof or lot for the installation. Provide additional detail in the RFP appendix.
Deadline for Submitting Proposals
All deadlines associated with the project need to be outlined in the RFP, including the deadline for responding to the RFP itself.
Pre-proposal Site Visit
This is a chance for contractors interested in bidding to visit the proposed installation site and ask any clarifying questions about the project.
Scope of Work
This is where the details of the solar PV system are described. This section can be filled out following the RFP template closely; the numbers that are included will be obtained during the feasibility study.
Terms and Conditions of Contract
This section defines how the project will be completed and can include any policies already in place related to procurement and/or contracts, or it can closely follow the RFP template.
Contractor eligibility requirements can be pretty straightforward as well. Be sure to review any specific qualifications required by your local jurisdiction and state. The RFP template includes information for the state of California as an example.
Instructions for Submitting a Proposal
Cover key items that each prospective contractor should include in its job proposal. Be sure to include any additional instructions regarding what form the proposal should be in and how it should be delivered (digital, hard copy), how many copies, etc.
This section highlights key dates in your timeline, including the date and time of the pre-proposal site visit, deadline for submitting proposals, and when work should take place (taking into consideration any special events, facility closures, etc., that would need to be worked around). Please refer to Step 3 on page 13 for schedule/timeline examples.
Any pertinent supplementary information should be included in the appendices. This may include photos of the proposed install location, electricity usage information or information gathered during the feasibility study. Examples of helpful site photos and descriptions are included in the sample RFP template.
It’s important to follow robust contracting protocols to protect your organization. Engage with your legal counsel to review your finished RFP, especially terms, conditions and eligibility.
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All Points North Foundation provides grants for U.S.-based projects and initiatives that support our priorities: improving public middle school education and teacher training, and implementing effective solar programs and/or projects.
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