Top 5 Energy RFP Pitfalls

Top 5 Energy RFP Pitfalls

Whether it’s a public or private sector energy organization, many companies rely on Requests for Proposals (RFPs) to collect, evaluate, and determine the most competitive solution to ensure the success of their business and operations. A responding bidder is required to invest a large amount of time, effort and money into developing a submission to an RFP. In most cases, bidders must display some level of site control, at least have submitted an application for interconnection, and have completed at a minimum a desktop assessment of the natural and cultural heritage features on the project site and surrounding areas. By the time a bidder is prepared to respond to an RFP, they likely have already invested thousands of dollars into the initial development of the project, if not more. Increasingly, requirements for community outreach and engagement are being added to the RFP process, which adds additional effort for the bidder for community meetings, outreach, and to facilitate building the on-going relationship. There are any number of pitfalls that could cause your submission to be scored poorly or worse, terminated. Below are the top 5 RFP pitfalls that we’ve either helped our clients avoid or heard horror stories from clients’ previous experiences.

1. Not being aware of long lead time items

An unfortunate situation to find yourself in is preparing a submission for an RFP, only to realize there is a requirement that is going to take you more time to complete than you have before the due date. This is a common mishap and one that is often looked over. Many RFPs offer a question and answer period before the due date to prompt bidders to review the RFP requirements early and get those questions and clarifications out of the way. Unfortunately, people are busy and reviewing a long document with many appendices and details can seem daunting. Getting an early start and having a dedicated person become an expert on the RFP requirements is essential in avoiding this fatal error.

2. Understanding mandatory requirements

The difference between a mandatory requirement and an optional request could make or break your submission. Completely missing a mandatory requirement is terrible but being under the impression that you have complied, when in reality there was a small component missing is almost worse. A simple example of this is ensuring the correct number of years of audited financial statements have been provided as requested or that the minimum threshold number of projects or project size requirements have been included in your development experience. In a competitive procurement process, a simple error or not quite hitting the mark could be an easy way for the RFP evaluation team to eliminate bidders. A dedicated person that fully understands the RFP requirements and performs quality control reviews on submission items is critical in avoiding this fatal error.

3. Misinterpretation of requirements

RFP documents are often filled with references to appendices or to other sections and definitions. It can be overwhelming and confusing to interpret what they are asking for and how to comply. While focusing on executing other major components of the bid submission, a simple requirement may be looked over, misinterpreted, or forgotten all together. For example, while you are busy signing leases, submitting an interconnection application, and managing an environmental firm to complete a desktop review of your properties, you may not realize that you’ve just calculated the bid fee incorrectly, or worse that the bid fee is due a day before the submission due date and you are unaware, causing your submission to be deemed invalid. A dedicated, single point of contact, who is an expert in understanding the intricate and lesser known requirements of the RFP is essential in avoiding this fatal error.

4. Not having a central bid manager

Typically, a team of people are involved in the compilation of a bid submission and when multiple people are working on multiple tasks it can get confusing as to who is doing what and what is outstanding. In the rush of it all, a common pitfall of teams preparing bid submissions is thinking someone was assigned to a task when they were not. This miscommunication leads to delays, potential additional cost, and worst-case failure to provide essential submission documents. Having a central bid manager, who is an expert in the RFP requirements and logistics, who is tracking the status and progress of the lead person responsible on every required RFP item is essential in avoiding this fatal error.

5. Missing the deadline

This one seems like an obvious error to avoid, however one slip on a long lead time item, or one moment of focus off of the RFP requirements can cause the deadline to be missed. In many cases the RFP deadline has a specific time of day associated with the date. A different time zone can kill a project. A requirement to deliver a hard copy submission can kill a project. A requirement to deliver a certain number of USB sticks can kill a project. Having a dedicated RFP expert, who is well aware of the submission logistics and RFP requirements can prevent a missed deadline and better yet, aim for an early submission.

As an organization that has invested a considerable amount of time and money into the initial development of your project, you want to ensure that you’re putting your best foot forward. Having a dedicated person who understands the intricate RFP requirements, performs quality control reviews on submission documents, and ensures the timely submission of your response is critical for a successful RFP submission.

Compass can lead the way to a successful bid submission by being a central point of contact and a source of information and strategic advice to ensure all requirements are met and exceeded. If you’d like support on your next RFP, please feel free to reach out directly to myself at