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Guide to Writing a Successful Solar RFP Response

Updated: 18 hours ago

solar PRF

Numerous government agencies, educational facilities, non-profits, and businesses are installing solar energy systems to reduce operating costs and decrease carbon emissions. Organizations commonly issue a solar request for proposal (RFP) to get bids from qualified contractors for a given PV project.

Creating high-quality solar RFP responses is critical for being selected and awarded many commercial renewable energy projects. Read on to learn about how solar RFPs work and how to boost your RFP close rate for solar projects.

What is a solar RFP?

A solar RFP announces a solar energy project and solicits proposals from qualified contractors. Government agencies, educational institutions, businesses, and non-profit organizations commonly issue solar RFPs to receive competitive bids for a photovoltaic project. They outline the photovoltaic product or service requirements, bidding process, and contract requirements.

Organizations use the solar RFP process to obtain comparable bids for solar energy installations that meet the project goals. There are a variety of resources available to organizations issuing RFPs for PV arrays, including the American Cities Climate Challenge On-Site Solar Request for Proposals template and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s (NREL’s) Writing Solar Requests for Proposals (RFPs): Lessons from NREL’s University PV Implementation Assistance Program.

What information is provided in an RFP for solar projects?

A well-written solar RFP commonly contains the following information to solicit bids from PV contractors:

  • Solar Project Overview and Purpose

  • Scope of Work

  • Solar Procurement Schedule

  • PV Proposal Requirements

  • Solar Proposal Evaluation

  • RFP Attachments

Solar Project Overview and Purpose

This information includes the project summary and goals, including information on the solar project site, annual clean energy production, preferred asset ownership structure (direct ownership vs. a solar power purchase agreement (PPA)), project O&M, and solar system monitoring. It will likely specify if it is a rooftop solar system or a ground-mounted array and provide information on the facility load data, electrical service, roof or soil conditions, shading, and solar site limitations.

Scope of Work

This section highlights the solar installation company’s responsibilities and requirements, such as design guidelines, technical requirements, a solar system commissioning plan, project ownership, solar energy output, and roles and responsibilities.

Solar RFP respondents must create a bid that meets all applicable building and electrical code and utility interconnection requirements. GreenLancer can provide solar plan sets and engineering stamps required in the commercial solar permitting process, plus a team of support specialists to help you navigate any AHJ in the country to get your project to PTO.

Solar Procurement Schedule

This section includes project dates and timelines for executing the solar project. The procurement schedule commonly includes receiving solar RFP responses, evaluating project bids, negotiating and signing solar contracts, and the PV installation timeline.

PV Proposal Requirements

Solar RFPs commonly include information on the format of proposals and may provide a standard response format to make it easier to compare PV proposals. Solar RFP responses typically contain:

Some solar RFPs may have requirements for supporting local, woman-owned, or minority-owned businesses and using local labor. Also, some projects may include a marketing or community education component, which should be addressed in the solar RFP response.

Evaluation of RFPs for Solar Projects

Organizations commonly disclose how they will evaluate solar proposals and may use a scoring matrix. This allows commercial solar installers to tailor their responses to meet the PV project goals determined by the government agency, business, organization, or institution.

Common criteria include contractor experience, compliance with code requirements, the quality of the technical proposal, cost-effectiveness, and timeliness of the implementation plan schedule. If your solar company doesn’t have in-house solar engineering services or they are beyond capacity, partnering with GreenLancer can help demonstrate your ability to effectively meet solar project permitting and engineering requirements in a timely manner.

Solar RFP Attachments

Organizations often include site photos, maps, and plans, roof structural drawings, electrical line drawings of the building, electricity rates, and energy consumption data. In addition, it’s common to provide contract terms and conditions and cost proposal forms.

How to Respond to a Solar RFP

  1. Review the solar RFP to understand what the client wants and the scope of the solar project.

  2. Visit the solar project site and ask any relevant questions.

  3. Determine that your solar company can meet the RFP deliverables effectively.

  4. Create a draft of your solar RFP with input from your team.

  5. Seek feedback from your team on your solar RFP response.

  6. Edit the final RFP draft, so it is clear and concise.

  7. Submit your solar proposal to the client by the due date.

How are solar RFPs evaluated?

Organizations often use a point system to evaluate solar RFP responses, which commonly include:

  • Cost-effectiveness of the solar project

  • Technical approach

  • Implementation schedule

  • Qualifications and experience of solar installation company and team member experience

How to Win an RFP for a Solar Project

Writing a high-quality solar RFP response is critical for a high close rate, which begins with a thorough understanding of the proposed PV project. Visit the site to conduct a solar feasibility analysis and on-site solar survey.

Then, write a personalized RFP response with photos and other graphics that meet the project requirements, site limitations, and PV project goals. It is critical to highlight the expertise of your solar company by providing information on past projects, team member experience, professional certifications, and references. Demonstrate that your company can meet the design, permitting, installation, operations, and maintenance aspects of the PV project.

In addition, provide supporting documentation about the solar system design, site modifications, solar equipment, warranties, electricity output estimates, etc. Strike a balance between omitting key information and overloading the solar proposal with unnecessary data. Finally, create a realistic timeline for the solar project that satisfies the specifications in the RFP and submit your response before the deadline.

One of the best ways to manage and meet solar project timelines is to avoid permitting and interconnection delays. GreenLancer solar permitting and engineering services ensure a seamless permitting and interconnection process with a platform built specifically to streamline your workflow.

Sign-up today to shop GreenLancer’s network of solar permitting and engineering specialists.

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