District of Columbia seeks microgrid developer for medical and communications facilities

July 5, 2022
The District of Columbia is seeking a developer, owner and operator for a 4-MW microgrid that will serve critical facilities in a mixed-use development known as the St. Elizabeths East campus. 

The District of Columbia is seeking a microgrid developer, owner and operator for a 4-MW project that will serve critical facilities in a mixed-use development known as the St. Elizabeths East campus. 

FEMA awarded the project $20 million in April, making it the first microgrid in the country to receive funding under the Building Resilient Infrastructure and Communities (BRIC) grant program. As such, it is expected to serve as a national model.

The grant is meant to go toward keeping a hospital emergency room and other critical health services from losing power and ensuring 911 services work during grid outages and extreme weather.

More specifically, the microgrid will serve the Cedar Hills Regional Medical Center, expected to open in late 2024, and the existing Unified Communications Center, along with a new men’s shelter.

The request for proposals (RFP) seeks a private partner to design, build, own, operate and maintain the microgrid under a 15-year, take-or-pay power purchase agreement. The district is leaving open the option of taking over ownership at the end of the 15 years. 

As envisioned, the energy system will provide electricity, hot water and chilled water, employing multiple energy resources, including combined heat and power, on-site solar and battery storage, multiple utility feeds and last resort back-up diesel generators. 

In addition to electrical load, the project will require 16 MMBtu of peak heating and domestic hot water, and up to 1,400 tons of cooling with potential for significant expansion to other off-takers on the campus, among them a behavioral health hospital.

The microgrid will include a minimum of 800 kW of solar. But the district wants the bid winner to encourage and coordinate the integration of more solar at other facilities on the campus and help the facilities interconnect with the local utility, Pepco.

Important note: The registration deadline for the July 8 site tour is July 6 at 4 pm ET. Register here with the solicitation number (DCAM-22-CS-RFP-0011), the project name (Redevelopment of St. Elizabeths East Campus – Microgrid Project), and the contract specialist (James Marshall), and then provide your name, company, phone number and email address.

The district will evaluate the proposals on a point scale with 30 points for past performance and relevant experience, 30 points for project management, 20 points for key personnel and team capabilities and 20 points for price. The RFP anticipates baseline pricing for energy services to be set using an avoided cost approach, so that off-takers pay less for energy services from the microgrid than they would have paid without the microgrid. 

The winning bidder would take responsibility for overall system design, construction and financing, while guaranteeing that the microgrid will be up and running in time to meet the energy needs of the new hospital and ambulatory care buildings.

Proposals are due Aug. 9. A pre-proposal conference and site visit will be held July 8. Questions are due July 15.

The RFP is available through the DC Department of General Services or by contacting James Marshall, senior contract specialist, at [email protected].

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About the Author

Elisa Wood | Editor-in-Chief

Elisa Wood is an award-winning writer and editor who specializes in the energy industry. She is chief editor and co-founder of Microgrid Knowledge and serves as co-host of the publication’s popular conference series. She also co-founded RealEnergyWriters.com, where she continues to lead a team of energy writers who produce content for energy companies and advocacy organizations.

She has been writing about energy for more than two decades and is published widely. Her work can be found in prominent energy business journals as well as mainstream publications. She has been quoted by NPR, the Wall Street Journal and other notable media outlets.

“For an especially readable voice in the industry, the most consistent interpreter across these years has been the energy journalist Elisa Wood, whose Microgrid Knowledge (and conference) has aggregated more stories better than any other feed of its time,” wrote Malcolm McCullough, in the book, Downtime on the Microgrid, published by MIT Press in 2020.

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