Timeline: 3–4 months

An initial request for proposals (RFP) can help you discover prices in your region. It should be used if:

A) Site and other major project components are still uncertain


B) When a buyer wants to discover prices before committing to project development

An initial RFP is similar to a request for information (RFI). If you have identified a site and you intend to proceed with a project, skip Level 3 and click below to continue to Level 4.

Proceed to Level 4: Site Selection


  • Write and Release Initial RFP
  • Manage and Evaluate Initial RFP
  • Determine Shortlist of Developers to Proceed to Final RFP

Step 1 Have you written an initial RFP?

A well-drafted RFP is the cornerstone of an effective procurement process. A well-structured RFP will encourage competition and allow you to collect the data required for effective decision-making.


1. Draft an RFP document using our Create Your Initial RFP resource.

2. Create an RFP bid sheet using the Create Your RFP Bid Sheet resource below. This bid sheet is to be completed by developers and ensures all bids are “apples to apples” and easy to evaluate.

3. Create Appendix documents for initial RFP (such as Buyer Information, Site-Specific Details, and the PPA Term Sheet).

Step 2 Have you released the RFP to developers?

Distribute the RFP to a broad distribution list to maximize your chances of receiving high-quality bids. To receive a list of solar project developers: consider reaching out to your state solar or renewable energy industry association.

Step 3 Have you managed developer questions during the RFP?

Even if an RFP is well written, you will inevitably receive questions during the RFP. You should use RFP management best-practices to ensure that information is effectively communicated and that questions are addressed in a timely and fair way. RFP management best practices include: – Creating a webpage where respondent questions are openly and transparently addressed. – Providing email updates to all vendors who have notified intent to participate in RFP. – Conducting an RFP webinar (also known as a “virtual site visit”).

CLICK BELOW to learn more about How to manage an RFP by conducting an RFP webinar (virtual site visit).

Step 4 Have you evaluated RFP bids?

Bids should be evaluated on price, ability to deliver, and quality. You should evaluate ability to deliver by weighing a proposal against project non-delivery risks. An initial RFP will result in a shortlist of developers.

CLICK BELOW to view a template of the Initial RFP Qualitative Evaluation Rubric. This template provides a high-level overview. The more detailed rubric is a premium tool. Please contact Shine at shine@rmi.org to access the premium Qualitative Evaluation Rubric.

Step 5 Have you notified the shortlist of developers?

Notify all developers if they have been included in the shortlist and invited to participate in the final RFP. It is recommended that you share data and information to explain why developers were not chosen or to show how the shortlist of developers stack up to their competitors. Consider meeting with shortlist developers to learn about their needs and align on next steps in the process.