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Clarify the Approval Process

Once you have identified the available procurement options, evaluate:

  • What is the approval process for the selected procurement strategy? 
  • Which departments, individuals, or governing bodies will need to contribute to or consult or sign off on the final transaction(s)?
  • Will the selected procurement strategy require procurement methods that differ from standard city procurement practices? If so, what implications might this have for obtaining the necessary approvals?

To help with this process you may want to:

  • Examine your city’s financial models and understand the duration allowed for contracts. 
  • Contact your legal department to clarify which entities will ultimately have to approve the final contracts Conducting a stakeholder analysis:
    Mindtools has created a short video that explains a stakeholder mapping exercise; this is one tool which can help you clarify how to engage with various stakeholders.
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Taking the time to identify and align with the relevant departments early in the process will help reduce internal barriers, improve your proposal, and possibly help identify potential supporters and collaborators.

Before meeting with each department’s representatives, you may want to review their core missions and identify the types of concerns they are likely to have about renewable energy. In addition, reviewing each department’s strategic planning documents may help you identify how and where renewable energy procurement might support their other priorities. 

During these conversations, you should aim to:

  • Identify and acknowledge potential issues and commit to working together to address these issues.
  • Discuss whether each department’s other motivations, goals, or commitments might benefit from or align with renewable energy projects (e.g., work force development).
  • Identify potential champions in each department who can help you move a project forward.

The departments that may be important to engage with at this early stage include the following:

  • Sustainability

    Any renewable energy strategy should be developed in close partnership with the sustainability team to ensure that the strategy is in line with the city’s other efforts and priorities

  • Legal

    Many renewable energy procurement strategies may be impacted by local laws or regulations; you should check in with your legal department to understand what constraints may exist within your local and state context.

  • Finance

    Your finance team can help you understand what key financial constraints may impact your strategy and evaluate whether your city would prefer buying a renewable energy project directly or using a third party solution such as a lease or a PPA

  • Real Estate and Facilities

    Some renewable energy strategies may impact how your facilities are operated and pay for electricity. On-site solar projects, in particular, require coordination with building managers to ensure that they do not hinder the buildings’ maintenance and operations.

  • Procurement

    Many cities have specific rules and regulations about the process which must be followed to purchase a commodity like electricity. You should speak with your procurement team to identify which rules and regulations might impact your strategy.

  • Emergency Management

    Projects which impact a city’s ability to operate emergency services should be evaluated by the city’s emergency management team. Examples could include on-site solar and battery systems on critical infrastructure such as fire stations.

  • Communications

    Your city’s communications team should be consulted early to consider how various projects could be communicated to the city population and which strategies might best align with other city communication goals and priorities.

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