Distributed Energy Catalog of Services

The Federal Energy Management Program (FEMP) has limited funding to provide federal agencies that are committed to implementing distributed energy projects, including on-site renewable energy, storage, and combined heat and power technologies, with targeted technical assistance to help them complete their projects. FEMP’s distributed energy project assistance services are as follows.

Screening Assistance

A screening estimates the economic and technical performance of renewable energy technologies at a site or several sites using common economic metrics. A screening may include the investigations of technology types and capacities, applicable incentives, site control and access, the regulatory environment, and interconnection limits, and offer a discussion of procurement strategies.

What a Screening Will Provide: An agency or site will receive a prioritized list of projects to further pursue, which includes recommendations about which technologies, if any, should be further assessed in a feasibility study.

Feasibility Study Assistance

A feasibility study establishes the economic and technical viability of a specific renewable energy projects at a site. It includes economic and technical performance, a detailed investigation of system capacity, applicable incentives, site control and access, regulatory environment, and interconnection limits, and recommends a specific project and procurement strategy. It also addresses other technical, off-taker, and permitting factors that may delay or impede project implementation. Depending on the size and complexity of intended systems, the feasibility study may be done remotely or include a site visit.

What a Feasibility Study Will Provide: A feasibility study provides a detailed report that establishes the economic and technical feasibility of a project, a recommended project and procurement strategy, and potential barriers that may delay or impede project implementation.

Interconnection/Grid Integration Assistance

Interconnection/grid integration assistance can help agencies understand and navigate the interconnection process, discuss interconnection issues with the utility, and interpret the results of an interconnection study.

Utilities or states often have limits on the amount of variable generation on local circuits. The interconnection of distributed-scale systems is typically based on state or utility policy and requires fees, insurance, and interconnection studies, whose level of complexity and cost goes up depending on system size. In the interconnection studies, the utility evaluates the impact of the proposed renewables project on its distribution system and identifies any utility upgrades to accommodate the project. Large-scale projects will follow a somewhat different process, dealing instead with transmission line capacity and Federal Energy Regulatory Commission policies.

What Interconnection/Grid Integration Assistance Will Provide: Interconnection/grid integration assistance helps agencies understand the interconnection process and associated costs and to decide whether to proceed with the process. If the agency proceeds with the interconnection process, it will find out what is needed to interconnect the renewable energy system to the grid.

High-Performance Green Building Construction/Renovation Assistance

High-performance green building construction/renovation assistance offers particular or comprehensive help with integrating renewable energy into the plans and design of a building construction or major renovation project.

What High-Performance Green Building Construction/Renovation Assistance Will Provide: Assistance offered depends on the project stage. In the pre-planning phase, a screening will be conducted to eliminate some technologies from further consideration. In the building design phase, the expert will use the results of the screening to inform the preliminary (15%) design of the project.

To provide detailed reinforcement for the selection of the most effective set of renewable energy technologies for the building, the expert will conduct a feasibility study for the schematic (35%) design. The more detailed assessments model the impact of renewable energy systems on the performance of a building and the cost effectiveness of these systems. At this point, the renewable energy expert reviews the later design phases and any value engineering to monitor the integration of the renewable energy technologies selected in the earlier design phases.

Large- and Utility-Scale Project Planning Assistance

Large- and utility-scale project planning assistance applies the framework found in the FEMP Large-Scale Renewable Energy Guide to the initial planning stages of a large-scale (agency is sole off-taker) or utility-scale (an additional off-taker besides the agency) project. The project fundamentals framework is used to identify the sites where a renewable energy technology is economically competitive and supported by favorable policies. After identifying the sites with sound project fundamentals, the project development framework is used to pre-develop a project by establishing site control and access, confirming a strong renewable resource, identifying the off-taker(s) (or purchasers of the electricity), and assessing National Environmental Policy Act and permitting risks.

What Large- and Utility-Scale Project Planning Assistance Will Provide: Agencies can use the data collected during the project development framework to issue a more effective request for information or request for proposal (RFP).

Acquisition Strategy Assistance

An acquisition strategy helps an agency or site determine the best acquisition approach for a project. An agency can acquire a project through direct appropriations or a project funding mechanism, such as a power purchase agreement (PPA), energy savings performance contract (ESPC), or utility energy services contract (UESC). The decision will depend on the size of the project, availability of agency appropriations, agency authorities, internal agency policies, and state regulations.

What Acquisition Strategy Assistance Will Provide: Acquisition strategy assistance helps an agency select an acquisition path that will shape the solicitation.

Request for Proposal Development/Proposal Review Assistance

RFP development and proposal review assistance is offered to help agencies develop a scope of work (SOW) and includes technical specifications and evaluation criteria for an RFP. SOWs without adequate instruction are prone to change orders and renegotiation that cost both the federal government and the supplier time and money.

After the RFP is issued, the site reviews and scores proposals according to the selection criteria. Criteria not included in the SOW may not be taken into account in contractors’ bids. Selection criteria often include capabilities and past performance.

What RFP Development/Proposal Review Assistance Will Provide: RFP development/proposal review assistance will provide a strong RFP with carefully selected evaluation criteria, which results in better proposals and ultimately the selection of an experienced renewable energy developer.

Contract Assistance

Contract assistance supports the agency or site in the negotiation of the contract. The contract establishes the cost, scope, and schedule of the project. Types of contract assistance include design-bid-build, where the system is designed by an engineering firm before construction companies bid on the installation, and design-build, where the same firm designs and installs the system.

Design-build, which is typically used by the energy companies in PPAs, ESPC, and UESCs, is similar to the engineering, procurement, and construction contract, the term used by renewable energy developers.

What Contract Assistance Will Provide: Contract assistance supports the agency or site in the negotiation of the contract. The contract establishes the cost, scope, and schedule of the project. Depending on the complexity of the project, the contract may require modifications to the SOW, schedule, and deliverables.

A contract that best supports the successful completion of the project is awarded to the developer. Depending on the specifications in the RFP or the acquisition approach, the site may award a preliminary contract before awarding the final contract, as the developer may need, for example, to secure financing before committing to the project.

Design Review Assistance

Design review assistance provides support with the review of engineering design documents. Most of the review effort is focused on the schematic design (typically 35% of the design), which includes the size and type of major system components. Subsequent design phases (e.g., 50%, 75%, and 95%) further develop the systems identified in the schematic design. Therefore, major changes after this early phase of design are unlikely to be considered.

What Design Review Assistance Will Provide: The agency is provided with comments that should be used to make the final design in line with contract requirements.

Construction Assistance

Construction assistance provides on-site monitoring at certain stages of construction to confirm that the system meets the terms of the contract and matches the design. Contract administration is required to enforce the terms of the contract. Close coordination between the construction manager and facility management is also required to minimize issues that could impact the facility's mission during construction. This does not substitute for or replace any local or utility inspection associated with local building, electrical, or other codes.

What Construction Assistance Will Provide: Construction has followed the project schedule and disruption to building occupants is minimized.

Acceptance Testing and Commissioning Assistance

Acceptance testing and commissioning assistance provides third-party verification that the system meets the intent of the design and operating according to specifications.

Inspects completed renewable energy project to confirm that the system is operating according to specifications. During the design phase, the commissioning agent should have documented the intent of the design, created the protocol by which the system performance will be evaluated, and noted required instrumentation. Almost all large systems have at least some deficiencies that need to be corrected. In a performance contract, it is up to the developer to commission the renewable energy system.

What Acceptance Testing and Commissioning Assistance Will Provide: Agency knows whether the renewable energy system is working properly and conforming to specifications.

Operations and Maintenance and Measurement and Verification Assistance

Operation and maintenance (O&M) and measurement and verification (M&V) assistance helps with creating an O&M plan or M&V protocol to ensure the renewable energy system works properly throughout its expected life. In some privately financed projects, the contractor performs O&M. Every system should include at least some operational indicators so that staff can easily see whether the system is working properly. Agencies should select an M&V protocol that provides enough information to determine how well the system is working (i.e., performance monitoring and tracking), and in many cases to allow occupants and visitors to interpret the performance of the project.

What O&;M and M&V Assistance Will Provide: An O&M plan and M&V protocol that keeps the system successfully operating for the expected life of the technology and keeps the agency informed about the condition of the system.

Performance Issues Assistance

Performance issues assistance helps agencies identify system performance issues that prevent the renewable energy system from operating as designed.

What Help Performance Issues Assistance Will Provide: Performance issues assistance provides solutions for system discrepancies and best practices.

Next Steps

After reviewing FEMP’s list of renewable energy technical assistance services, the next step is to request technical assistance, or contact FEMP with questions.