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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Lucrative solar work up for bids

By William Cole
Advertiser Military Writer

The Navy today is expected to seek proposals from small businesses to install and operate solar power systems at military installations on O'ahu, Kaua'i and Maui for a minimum period of 12 months, but which could range up to 30 years. The maximum of all the combined contracts could be $500 million.

The information was released by the federal government in a presolicitation notice. The U.S. military is trying to reduce its dependence on foreign oil, and photovoltaics are one source of alternative energy the Pentagon is aggressively pursuing.

Plans call for the government to purchase solar-generated electric power in Hawai'i, but it will not acquire any solar plants. The systems will be financed, built, owned, operated and maintained by small businesses.

Naval Facilities Engineering Command Pacific is the procurement agent for the projects.

The solar systems would be installed at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Marine Corps Base Hawaii, Schofield Barracks, Wheeler Army Airfield, Tripler Army Medical Center, Fort DeRussy, the Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies, Naval Computer and Telecommunications Area Master Station, Naval Magazine West Loch, the Pacific Missile Range Facility on Kaua'i and the Army Reserve Center on Maui.

Multiple awards for solar systems will be made to about five contractors. More details, including power outputs, will be outlined in the formal request for proposal, which is expected to be released today.

The Navy in February put out a notice seeking small businesses that would be able to meet the military's solar power requirements in Hawai'i.

Businesses being sought are those that are engaged in the generation, transmission and/or distribution of power. To qualify for this small-business opportunity, a company's electricity output for the preceding fiscal year cannot have exceeded 4 million megawatt hours.

Don Rochon, a spokesman for Naval Facilities Engineering Command Pacific, said it is the federal government's policy to provide maximum opportunities in all acquisitions to small business.

"Our market research found sufficient small businesses available to allow good competition for a contract of this capacity to build, operate and maintain renewable solar power systems," he said.