Midwest Renewable Energy Association (MREA) is seeking qualified firms to submit proposals for the design, procurement, and installation of new, residential and commercial, direct-owned and power purchase agreement photovoltaic systems at a per-watt price lower than the prevailing single system market rate.
The group buy is being led by Midwest Renewable Energy Association. The goal of the group buy is to increase solar education and installations in Champaign and Piatt Counties through a group purchase involving free information sessions and a competitive selection process.
Between 2013 and 2018, the MREA facilitated twenty-two Solar Group Buy programs around the Midwest, reaching over 6,000 individuals with our Solar Power Hour information sessions, and leading to more than 7,400 kW on over 1,000 properties. Among those property owners who received proposals from partnering contractors, an average 42% purchased a PV system. To date, the average system size is 7.5 kW.
The group buy is conducted with the support of the City of Monticello, Piatt County, City of Savoy, City of Urbana, Prairie Rivers Network, Parkland College and associated municipalities and community groups with wide publicity and awareness in the area.
RFP Announced February 22, 2019
RFP Questions Due/Posted March 8, 2019
RFP Proposals Due March 15, 2019
Firm Selected April 1, 2019
QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS:
1. Q: May approved supporting documents in the optional appendix be sized at more than one page per sheet or does MREA prefer/require them to be one page/sheet?
A: Additional supporting documents in the appendix may be sized at multiple pages per sheet if necessary.
2. Q: PPA/leases are usually offered at a $/kwh rate vs a $/watt cost regardless of system size or complexity (number and type of adders). The format to communicate a PPA/lease product in Exhibit C does not appear conducive this type of product pricing. Can you please provide an example of how MREA expects to see PPA/lease pricing conveyed in Exhibit C?
A: Please express pricing for PPA financing in the way that customers will be shown pricing options.
3. Q: Please clarify the constraint that “Pricing based solely on specific individual system size will not be considered” in Section IX, Item F? Does this mean that vendors cannot simply offer a limited set of fixed system sizes and must offer a range of system sizes with the pricing applying to every possible size and configuration within that range?
A: This is intended to prevent installers from applying a one-size-fits-all approach that ignores common price differences based on differing site characteristics. Proposals can contain price adjustment based on system size but should also detail price differences based on site characteristics such as roof slope, roofing material, required electrical service upgrade, etc.
4. Q: Please explain the comment in Exhibit A, Scope of Work, that “If more than one firm is selected, MREA and the Advisory Committee will refer prospective participants to the firms in an equitable manner determined at the time of firm selection”.? Earlier on Page 3 under the ADVISORY COMMITTEE section the RFP stated only one proposal would be selected. Please clarify what appears to be disconnected messaging here regarding the number of winners that can or will be selected.
A: One proposal will be selected. If multiple installers submit a joint proposal, and that proposal is selected, the advisory committee will review the relationship agreement between contractors to ensure uniformity in the provision of services to all program participants.
5. Q: Please clarify the meaning of the Note on Page 10 expressing that “The program may be extended to another round of group purchase”. Does this mean that the 2019 selected vendor could be asked to provide the same services in 2020 via extension to the 2019 contract?
A: Hypothetically, yes, but our ongoing intention is to facilitate a separate competitive RFP process for each program.
6. Q: Shall the baseline cost also include any SREC program admin fees and Approved Vendor processing charges or shall this be expressed as a line-item charge outside of the baseline cost?
A: SREC benefits, incentives, and program fees should be expressed independently of the base-line pricing. In other words, baseline price is pre-incentive $/W.
7. Q: Acknowledging that for IPA-defined Group A utility customers (Ameren and co-ops/munis of interest for this UC4.0 program) the Large DG (>10 KWAC) SREC fund allocation for the current 2019 ABP auction affecting the period of this Solarize program is over-applied for by a factor of 2-3x which in turn has the strong potential to prevent any participant >10 KWAC from receiving any SRECs for the foreseeable future until the IPA determines it’s full over-application policy, what is MREA’s realistic guidance for > 10 KWAC system participation in this program? In other words, does MREA anticipate making this a <10 KWAC-only program in light of the fact that this is the only block for which SRECs can be reasonably assured?
A: This program will focus on <10kWAC arrays as a result of over-application of so-called Large DG in the IPA’s Adjustable Block Program, but customers seeking >10kWAC will not be excluded.
8. Q: Please define in greater detail the requirements of a “Site Assessment” and where this must fall in a project life cycle relative to a contract signature. In other words, may a pre-contract “Sales Site Assessment” be conducted virtually by mutual agreement between the vendor and the customer if a detailed physical technical on-site will be conducted post-contract? If yes, then what if any requirements will be imposed upon the contract price based on what is discovered via the post-signature assessment. In other words, is it acceptable to to sign a conditional “highest price” contract pending physical site assessment for which the price will be maintained or reduced following the site assessment and which the customer may cancel if desired without any penalty?
A: Customers should be aware of the total price of their array in advance of signing a contract. Costs should not fluctuate post-contract signing except by necessary change order with express consent of the customer. Additionally, all changes in price must comply with the price schedule negotiated with MREA and included in the Master Service Agreement between MREA and the selected contractor(s).
9. Q: Can we see the Scorecard template for this year? Can we see an anonymized version of how the winning proposal for this program scored in past years?
A: The scoring rubric for contractor selection follows the proposal requirements and point values outlined in the RFP. We do not share the rubric or rubric scores outside of the selection committee.
10. Q: How much are the items in the “additional points” worth? Are they all worth 1 point?
11. Q: It looks like references are not worth points, is this correct? Is this more like a requirement?
A: The Advisory Committee won’t assign points, but will take into consideration the presence and quality of the references in addition to scoring proposals.
12. Q: Is the cover letter scored or worth points?
14. Q: What percentage of local Group Buy installations have used PPA financing when available?
15. Q: Will you seek input from local inspectors regarding the past performance of Group Buy contractors or get information from them about their expectations for the upcoming Program?
A: Possibly, but not before proposal selection takes place.
16. Q: How much will additional marketing spending by the selected contractor be considered in the RFP?
A: Not a factor.
17. Q: Are we allowed to hyper-link images and other elements into the proposal? Do we just stay descriptive?
A: Linked images and other elements are permissible if absolutely necessary, but proposing firms should not rely on them and required visual/other content should be included in the body of their proposal.
18. Q: Please describe the preferred method that a vendor should use to communicate a request to substitute components (modules, etc), when supply constrains the use of a primary module selected within the proposal. Would component substitution language within the proposal be acceptable for these reasons?
A: Yes, component substitution language within the proposal is acceptable. We understand that equipment availability can fluctuate, and historically have handled such situations with the selected installer on an as-needed basis.