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Assess the value of candidate sites and consider issuing a RFI or RFP to understand lease and/or project pricing for your city-owned site(s)

Once you have identified potential sites for solar, you will want to assess and compare the value of developing on these sites. When comparing potential locations, you may want to consider price as well as factors such as visibility and alternative uses. For example, building a solar project on a highly-visible capped landfill will likely be more expensive, but siting on a project in such a location may provide benefits that outweigh the increased complexity of building on contaminated lands.

Once you have identified your preferred sites, you can collect more exact pricing estimates by distributing an RFI or RFP to identify interested solar developers. The steps laid out below demonstrate how you might execute this process:

  • 1. Develop a land/site lease agreement.

    You can read the Guidelines to Community Solar Garden Leases provided by the University of Minnesota Law School (and potentially edit the land lease to meet your needs). Review this agreement with a lawyer.

    The most frequently used mechanism for community solar is a lease, but licenses or easements can also be used. Local or state laws may dictate which options are feasible as well as certain required terms of the contract. For more details on types of contracts for site development, see Section 3.2 of the IREC Solar Power Purchase Agreements report.

  • 2. Write an RFP and bid sheet that asks for land/site bids and feedback on the land/site lease agreement.

    Review other cities’ RFPs for inspiration. Include the land lease agreement in the RFP package so developers can provide initial commentary on it. See New York State Energy Research and Development Authority’s (NYSERDA’s) RFP land lease template.

  • 3. Distribute the RFP and explain the evaluation process to developers.

    This maximizes your chances of receiving high-quality bids. State solar or renewable energy industry association such as SEIA maintain lists of developers and solar professionals at https://www.seia.org/national-solar-database.

  • 4. Evaluate and select winning bids.

    Bids should be evaluated on price, ability to deliver, responses to the agreement, and quality. Consider enlisting a consultant to help you compare bids.

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