It is important to establish a core on-site procurement team with specified roles and responsibilities. Your team may be a combination of internal city staff and external subject matter experts. It will need a mix of skills, including project management, on-site solar assessments, energy modeling, and contract development. These core members will likely:
- Perform or oversee on-site solar siting assessment;
- Analyze and decide on the solar ownership model;
- Run the transaction process — develop and issue the request for proposals (RFP), select and negotiate with the contractor(s), and sign the contract(s)
- Work with your city communications team to share your on-site solar project success stories.
Potential core internal city staff may include the following:
- Sustainability officer(s): Your sustainability staff will likely lead this effort.
- Energy manager(s): You will need to request consumption and rate structure information from city energy managers to perform the techno-economic analysis, as well as work closely with them through the planning and procurement process. In some cities, the energy manager leads the effort.
- Facility and site manager(s): You should plan on engaging facility and site managers to understand any building structural issues, future site plans, and minimize workplace disruptions during site visits or the solar installation.
- Financial officer(s): You will need to work closely with your city’s internal finance team to evaluate any potential deals from a financial perspective.
- Legal expert(s): You may require some aid from your internal legal department to consider what contractual requirements may be necessary to accommodate local bylaws, administrative policies, and city purchasing requirements.
- Procurement officer(s): You should plan to engage with your procurement department to understand city restrictions and requirements for procurement processes, including requests for information (RFIs) or RFPs.
The core team will also be responsible for engaging internal and external stakeholders at different stages in the process. It is helpful to identify these stakeholders early on so they can be quickly engaged throughout the process. It may even be beneficial to form a solar advisory committee from these stakeholders; the Department of Energy’s Solar Powering Your Community report has guidance on doing so. Internally, these stakeholders may include your city’s legal or general counsel, finance or budget officer, and facility master planner. Your city manager or city council is a particularly important stakeholder; you should review project progress and milestones with them so they are engaged long before they are asked for any approvals. Externally, these stakeholders could include local businesses, community advisory groups, local housing authorities, other cities, the local solar industry, local utilities, and advocacy groups.