Renewable Energy Contract Development Best Practices
A Request for Proposal (RFP) is a formal bid document to ask vendors to provide proposals for desired projects, as required by many public agencies (federal, state, local). A solar RFP outlines the photovoltaic (PV) product or service requirements, the contract terms, and bidding process. RFPs are frequently issued as a means to receive competitive bids on a power purchase agreement (PPA).
A solar PPA is a financial contract in which a third-party developer owns, operates, and maintains the PV system, and a customer agrees to purchase the system's electric output from the solar services provider for an agreed-upon price and for a predetermined period. The systems may be hosted on site, such as the customer’s roof, or at an off-site location.
A working understanding of contract development best practices and access to standardized solar contract templates will improve project transparency and accountability while accelerating solar deployment by reducing time and cost of the contract development process.
Below are resources to help you effectively navigate through the solar contract development process.
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- Solar RFP Issuance Checklist for Facilities Managers (PDF) (1 pg, 9K)
- EPA developed a solar RFP document checklist to keep track of key components, such as scope and deliverables, specific requirements, and RFP submission process and key dates.
- Solar Powering Your Community: Key Elements of Solar Requests for Proposals (PDF) (31 pp, 1.5MB)
- This presentation, developed by the U.S. Department of Energy’s SunShot Initiative, covers the key elements of a solar RFP, including the solar project procurement and implementation process, how to submit a successful solar RFP, common pitfalls, a case study, and resources/sample RFPs.
- Solar Request for Proposals & Procurement Guidance (DOCX) (12 pp, 588K)
- The purpose of this RFP template is to provide guidance for the procurement of solar PV. This template contains information on project background, scope of work, proposal requirements, evaluation criteria, and recommended information to provide to respondents. Users are encouraged to modify the template to suit project needs.
- Writing Solar Requests for Proposals (RFPs): Lessons from NREL’s University PV Implementation Assistance Program (PDF) (2 pp, 440K)
- Typically, universities issue RFPs as a way to get competitive bids on solar PPAs. However, RFPs could also be used for university-owned systems. While providing assistance to universities issuing RFPs, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory has developed a list of common issues to consider when writing an RFP for solar PV.
- Procuring and Implementing Solar Projects on Public Buildings (PDF) (38 pp, 2.6MB)
- This presentation outlines good practices and guidance for solar PV and solar water heating (SWH) RFP processes, describes how to avoid five common PV and SWH pitfalls, and illustrates practices and pitfalls with a case study.
- Steps to a Successful Solar Request for Proposal
- This publication is designed for those individuals overseeing procurement for the local government they serve with the goal of helping them develop successful RFPs for solar energy systems. Learn about the essential elements of a solar RFP; receive introductory guidance on how to evaluate any proposals received; and be directed towards tools, resources, and sample documents that can help maximize the effectiveness of your solar procurement efforts.
- A Best Practice for Developing Availability Guarantee Language in Photovoltaic (PV) O&M Agreements (PDF) (78 pp, 1.62MB)
- This report identifies both best-practice elements and gaps that must be addressed to improve communication of equipment operational states and failure modes in PV operations and maintenance (O&M) services contracts. These best-practice elements and gaps can benefit both a PV system or plant owner and an O&M services provider or operator.
- Solar Power Purchase Agreement Template
- This solar PPA template document was developed by a group of solar developers, law firms, and other interested parties in the solar energy space. It represents a consensus around one possible approach to solar finance, with a particular emphasis on access to the broader capital markets. To use this content, you should review it in the context of your personal business strategy.