Competitive Bidding: Current opportunities and how to participate

You may have heard:   Southeast Alberta is transitioning to renewables. Several construction projects are already underway in our region, and this presents a significant opportunity for local businesses to grow their revenue through the provision of goods, services and resources to these projects.

Under Round 1 of the Government of Alberta’s Renewable Electricity Program (REP), four projects were approved in December 2017 as part of a total 26 projects being considered.  

The four projects approved are:

1.The Whitla Wind Farm, awarded to Capital Power Corporation

2.Phase 2 of Castle Rock Ridge Wind Power Plant, awarded to Enel Green Power Canada, Inc.

3.Riverview Wind Farm, awarded to Enel Green Power Canada, Inc.

4.Sharp Hill Wind Farm, awarded to EDP Renewables Canada Ltd. 

The remaining projects will be considered during REP Rounds 2 and 3, which officially started on April 4, 2018 with an intention to announce remaining awards by December 31, 2018.

Each of these companies will be releasing procurement packages with the goal of securing subcontractors who will perform the work. 

Capital Power Corporation has placed three public bid opportunities onto MERX (www.merx.com) for the construction of the Whitla Wind Farm.  The three Requests for Proposals (RFPs) are listed on their website at  www.capitalpower.com.  They are:

1.LIDAR:       Light Imaging Detection and Ranging is the surveying method that will be used at the site.

2.Shamrock 1071S Substation Engineering, Procurement and Construction:  this would require the bidder to engineer, procure materials according to project specific requirements and complete the entire construction of the substation.

3.Operations & Maintenance Building: this could include the repair and maintenance of the complete electrical of the building and replacement of defective or damaged materials.

For companies that are looking for direction on how to participate in these current bid opportunities, here are some important things you need to know:

Become a pre-qualified supplier.    You will need to go through a process to become a “pre-qualified supplier”.   Capital Power pre-qualifies their suppliers using the services of  ISNetworld (www.capitalpower.com/Pages/Suppliers.aspx).  By completing the registration process at www.isnetworld.com and fulfilling all of the listed requirements, you may become a pre-qualified supplier, allowing you to bid on their procurement packages.

Obtain the bid packages.   Register at the MERX website at www.merx.com to access the bid packages.

Get ready to submit your response to the Request for Proposal (RFP).   Here are some important tips to consider when submitting a response to an RFP:

1.Read and follow the Instructions to Bidders.  There should be no shortcuts in this review.  These are the rules of the bidding process and will be enforced by the courts in the event of a conflict.

2. Attend the pre-bid meeting if one is scheduled, and do not be afraid to ask questions.

3. Send in questions throughout the bid period with the understanding that all bidders will likely get answers to your questions as well.

4. Review and understand the bid evaluation criteria.

5. Review and understand the mandatory requirements.

6. If you do not have the experience, consider partnering with others who do.

7. Ensure you have the capacity to carry the project financially for a few months until you get your first payment.  If you don’t, then consider requesting an advance payment.  Recognize however that that may disqualify you.

8. Seek a line of credit from your financial organization.

9. Get your mandatory insurance requirements in place.  The RFP will tell you what those are.

10. Review the RFP forms and always fill them out completely. 

11. Highlight areas where you differentiate yourself.

12. Keep it simple.

13. If your safety record is not optimal, explain what your company has done to address the concerns.

14. Identify the risks which you will be responsible to cover and ensure your bid pricing ensures sufficient dollars to cover those risks.

15. Be prepared to walk away from the RFP if you can’t profit.

16. Recognize that if you submit a bid and the work is awarded to you, unless there are specific extenuating circumstances, you have to accept it.

17. Check and double-check your pricing.  If you make a mistake, you may have to live with it.

18. Ensure your bid is on time and meets the deadline to the minute.

19. Read the model terms and conditions provided with the bid.  It is better to walk away from a bad contract before submitting a proposal rather than damaging or losing your business through excessive risk. The time to express concern or suggest alternate approaches is in your proposal, recognizing however that that may  disqualify an otherwise qualified bid.

APEX Alberta in partnership with the Medicine Hat and District Chamber of Commerce will be hosting a full-day seminar to help business owners navigate the competitive bidding process.  Speakers attending this session include the City of Medicine Hat, Government of Alberta, Government of Canada, Defence Construction Canada, City of Brooks, and a presentation by 9Dot Collective on how to write an effective response to a Request for Proposal.  The session will be held at the Medicine Hat College on Thursday, May 31, 2018.  If you are interested in attending this free session, please contact Elizabeth Blair at the Community Futures office by calling 403-528-2824.

Elizabeth Blair worked in the procurement industry for 11 years as a buyer and a construction contracts administrator.  She currently serves as the regional innovation network coordinator for APEX.  APEX supports the growth of innovative and technologically-oriented businesses in Southeast Alberta.  APEX Alberta is a collaborative initiative between three core service providers: Community Futures Entre-Corp, Medicine Hat College and Alberta Innovates.