On August 28, 2013, the U.S. Army Engineering & Support Center in Huntsville, Alabama, acting in conjunction with the Army Energy Initiatives Task Force (“EITF”), issued a second round of awards under the multi-award task order contract for renewable and alternative energy that hit the streets last summer (Solicitation Number W912DY-11-R-0036, the “MATOC”). The number of awards is somewhat surprising, however, given the Army’s early-stated desire to qualify as many applicants as possible in each technology category. In total, there were 114 proposals submitted for the solar technology segment of the MATOC, but only twenty-two (22) Indefinite Delivery/Indefinite Quantity (“ID/IQ”) contracts were issued yesterday. Thus, the Army rejected more than 80% of the applicants. Of the awards the Army did make, only six (6) were to small businesses (as defined in the solicitation). 

Col. Robert Ruch, commander of the U.S. Army Engineering & Support Center in Huntsville, stated in a press release that “[b]y pre-qualifying companies under each technology and awarding the contracts to them, we are situated to more quickly award task orders for individual future projects being developed by the Army or DOD.”  While the ID/IQ contracts do not give those 22 companies a right to construct specific projects, they do give the recipients the exclusive right to bid on forthcoming base-level task order RFPs that will be issued under the MATOC.

While the right to bid, by itself, may not seem like much, these awards represent the Army’s long-awaited next step in getting its $7 billion solicitation for independently-financed renewable energy projects off the ground.  The awardees have been waiting patiently since submitting their proposals last October, and the EITF has been working diligently with industry participants on a standard form power purchase agreement ever since- a form that we anticipate will provide the foundation for the base-level RFPs.

It is still unclear just how many task orders for solar energy projects will be issued by the Department of Defense under the MATOC, or when they will be issued.  In recent months, Fort Detrick, Fort Irwin, and Fort Bliss have come out with RFPs or requests for for statements of qualification for new solar photovoltaic projects, but none of these solicitations is taking place under the umbrella of the MATOC contract.  Each is a stand-alone RFP that was open to universal competition. Once individual installations begin issuing task orders for solar projects under the MATOC, however, the 22 awardees recognized yesterday will represent the universe of qualified bidders.

The first round of ID/IQ contracts were awarded to five potential developers of geothermal projects back on May 3, 2013.  No task orders for geothermal projects have been issued to date.  While the Army has not announced awardees under the wind and biomass portions of the MATOC, its press release yesterday stated that those awards should be made by the end of this calendar year.