Solar power came a step closer to reality for U.S. Virgin Islanders this week as the V.I. Water and Power Authority announced it had culled the 27 companies bidding to sell 10 renewable megawatts down to six for final consideration.
The bid selection process is on schedule, despite a short delay from a large number of bids, according to WAPA, and the RFP calls for a guaranteed commercial operation date of December 2013. If all goes well, it will be the first substantial non-petroleum electricity production in the territory.
The RFP, which can be downloaded from the link below, calls for 10 megawatts, preferably but not necessarily split evenly between its St. Thomas and St. Croix power plants. WAPA is requesting turnkey proposals where respondents will be responsible for constructing, operating, and maintaining all facets of the project.
To put this additional capacity in perspective; at peak operation, St. Croix consumes 55 megawatts and St. Thomas 88 megawatts, according to past statements from WAPA. Scaled-back Alpine Energy Group plans for a trash-to-energy plant on St. Croix that would burn pelletized refuse from throughout the territory anticipate 16.5 megawatts of power production.
The utility will sign a 20-year power purchase agreement for the procurement of solar energy from one or more selected respondents, with an option to renew for another 5 years. The preferred model of the PPA with specific terms and general concepts important in developing responsive proposals is included in the RFP to help bidders, according to a statement from WAPA.
In the utility’s announcement, WAPA Executive Director Hugo Hodge Jr. said the proposals were evaluated with pricing weighted at 25 percent, experience at 25 percent, strength of development and construction plan 20 percent, strength of operations and maintenance plan five percent and other factors 10 percent.
Originally, the shortlist was scheduled for release Oct. 25 but was changed to Nov. 18 so the utility’s team of experts could fully assess each of the bids submitted, according to WAPA. Hodge said the utility was encouraged by the large number of responses.
Meetings and initial interviews with the companies are scheduled for mid-December and negotiations will begin immediately after, WAPA’s Chief Operating Officer Gregory Rhymer said.
Three of the companies on the short list submitted bids in partnership with locally based companies. The authority will negotiate with the following bidders:
- AES Solar, Arlington, Va.;
- BeSmart Energy Capital, White Plains, N.Y.;
- Lanco Solar International, Inselin, N.J.;
- Sun Edison, Costa Mesa, Ca.;
- SunPower Corporation Chapel Hill, N.C.;
- Toshiba International Corporation Dresher, Pa.
In order to get the best pricing for its customers, WAPA will not reveal any prices and other information considered confidential or proprietary by the bidders while negotiations are in progress. Public meetings will be held for residents to review the selection process, Hodge said.