Worcester County Seeks Solar System Proposals

BERLIN – Less than two weeks after hiring a consultant to help with the process, Worcester County is officially soliciting proposals for solar projects.

On Aug. 4 the Worcester County Commissioners agreed to hire CQI Associates to assist in finding an energy company to erect a solar array in Worcester County. This week, the commissioners approved the solar Request for Proposal (RFP) itself. Bids are due to Worcester County by Sept. 8.

“Everyone spent a lot of time reviewing the draft from CQI,” said Bill Bradshaw, the county’s engineer. “It really came together.”

The issuance of the RFP comes after the commissioners were presented with an unsolicited proposal from Standard Solar and Sun Edison in July. The companies, who partnered on the solar array that was built in Pocomoke City, presented plans to build a similar facility just off Route 12 to benefit the county.

After asking county staff to do some research, the commissioners opted not to accept the proposal but rather to solicit bids for a solar facility. County Attorney Sonny Bloxom, a member of the county’s Electricity Procurement Committee, told the commissioners the municipalities that went out to bid got better deals than those who didn’t.

Staff said it would be possible to go out to bid and still have construction done by December 2016, when federal solar incentives expire.

When contacted this week, officials from Standard Solar said they were still interested in doing a project in Worcester County and would be participating in the RFP process.

“We will be responding to the RFP with a highly competitive proposal including qualifications and pricing with our teammate Sun Edison,” said Robert Busler, Standard Solar’s director of business development.

The RFP approved this week outlines the solar photovoltaic electric generating system the county is seeking and also advises bidders that they will have to provide land for the site, as the county doesn’t have suitable space.

Bradshaw said bids would be due back Sept. 8 and that the commissioners would officially select a proposal Oct. 6.

“We anticipate that Notice to Proceed with construction will be issued Nov. 25, 2015 and that construction will be completed and the system will be ready for operation and electric supply to the county by Sept. 15, 2016,” Bradshaw wrote in a memo the commissioners.