HeatSmart Mass Installers Request for Proposal

The Massachusetts Clean Energy Center (MassCEC) and the Department of Energy Resources (DOER) will be seeking proposals from installers of clean heating and cooling technologies. Interested Installers must have expertise in some or all of the following residential technologies: air-source heat pumps, ground-source heat pumps, central biomass heating, and solar hot water. 

HeatSmart Mass is a community-based outreach and education program that will encourage clean heating and cooling technologies. The program aims to help drive down the installation cost and increase deployment or residential and small-scale commercial heating and cooling installations through a group purchasing model. HeatSmart Mass is modeled on the highly successful Solarize Massachusetts program, which is now in its seventh year and has 63 communities and resulted in over 3,200 installations and 21.6 megawatts of solar photovoltaic projects.

By participating in this program, Installers will likely see the following benefits to their company: 

  • Community and volunteer outreach and marketing efforts to promote the technology and your company;
  • A high volume of projects geographically concentrated with the flexibility to coordinate installations for maximum efficiency;
  • Access to direct conversations with local permitting and inspecting agencies in order to better understand what they are looking for; and
  • Potential for long-term leads and projects generated after the campaign has concluded

As a part of the Program, MassCEC and DOER will be selecting up to (6) community applications. Upon community selection, an installer RFP will be released with instructions for application to this program in October or November.

 

 

Questions & Answers

General

Can interested installers apply for multiple communities?

  • Yes, installers may apply for as many of the participating communities as they would like. However, if installers apply for multiple communities, they will need to complete the additional questions in the application about their capacity to serve multiple communities.

Can interested installers apply for only one town that is part of a partnership with other towns?

  • No, if a town is partnered with other towns (e.g., Carlisle, Concord, and Lincoln), installers must apply to serve the entire community grouping.

Is there a minimum number of installations expected? How many installations can an installer expect to be guaranteed?

  • There is no minimum guarantee for quantity of installations in any particular Community for any particular technology. However, MassCEC does have the number of contracts signed in past Solarize campaigns posted: http://www.masscec.com/solarize-mass-program-results. The Solarize volume serves as a potential point of reference; however, clean heating and cooling technology and markets are different than solar PV. MassCEC is looking to partner with installers who are excited about this model. An important value of the pilot will be providing reference targets for future HeatSmart Mass campaigns.

With whom does the installer contract with for this campaign?

  • Attachment D is a template installer contract. The contract will be between MassCEC and the selected installer(s). In general MassCEC does not expect to modify this template contract, so please make sure to review the template contract and provide any comments or questions as part of the RFP response. While the contract is with MassCEC, there are many terms and conditions included in the contract for working with the community.

Is this different from the MassCEC Solarize Plus campaign?

  • This is a separate effort, but the structures can be seen as very similar. The main difference is that this campaign focuses exclusively on heating and cooling technologies and will not include solar photovoltaics as part of the campaign.

Can the customer sign-up period be extended? And if so, under what circumstances?

  • The intention of the program is to run the customer sign-up period during the dates outlined in the RFP (end of February through end of July 2018). Based on individual community circumstances and priorities, MassCEC will work with the communities to evaluate whether to extend the customer sign-up period. This decision would most likely be made during the customer sign-up period.

Would MassCEC consider extending the word limits in the application materials?

  • It is not advised that installers go beyond the predetermined word limits. In order to MassCEC to fairly and efficiently weight each proposal, the word limits should be adhered to.

Can a partnership include multiple trades that are needed to complete the installation? For instance, an ASHP installer who subcontracts electrical work or a GSHP HVAC contractor who works with a GSHP driller.

  • The application for the situations described could choose one of the following approaches:
    1. One company could submit a solo application, which can include subcontractors (such as electricians or drillers) as part of the project team. A GSHP driller could even choose to be the main applicant and have the HVAC contractor as the subcontractor. The subcontractor would not be a full partner, because they would not fill out Attachment B: Individual Application Form or Attachment C: Pricing, Cost Adder, and Equipment Form separately. However, if the subcontractor wished to participate in the interview process that would be possible. As a reminder, subcontractors can participate in multiple applications with different installers.
    2. Both companies could submit a partnership application, which means that both companies would fill out Attachment B: Individual Application Form and participate in the interviews. Since both companies would be working on a single technology, they would still just complete one joint version of Attachment C: Pricing, Cost Adder, and Equipment Form.

Pricing

When it comes to state-wide price averages, does MassCEC consider differences in equipment brands?

  • No. The average prices in the RFP are taken from our rebate programs across all brands. MassCEC does have price information for specific brands and that information can be available to the Communities during their installer proposal review and interview process, if requested. However, MassCEC wants to drive down overall technology costs, so the price averages are brand agnostic.

Should installers still apply even if the lowest price they can offer is still above the state-wide averages listed in the RFP? How heavily is price competitiveness weighed?

  • Installers should still apply even if their prices are higher than averages listed in the RFP. While price competitiveness is an evaluation criteria, it is only one of the criteria and it is not a determining factor. Community-specific criteria is equally, if not more, important when considering proposals. The Community volunteers are the decision-makers for the selection process. In past Solarize efforts, participants have stated that customer satisfaction and local presence are more important than the “cheapest” proposals. If installers can demonstrate that they are offering discount for their standard pricing that will be considered as well.

Where are the state-wide average prices for the technologies found?

  • Please refer to the RFP, on page 11.

There is no cost adder for more difficult sites and installations, which can substantially increase the price. How can installers include that information in their proposal?

  • Attachment C (pricing, Cost Adders, and Equipment Form) includes adders that MassCEC thought were relevant, however, installers can add, remove, or modify any of those adders as they see fit. Additionally, installers will have the local Community volunteers available if a particularly difficult situation arises.

Will the rebates be paid to the homeowner or installer?

  • This is up to the installer and could be mentioned in their application. All of MassCEC’s rebate programs allow this to be a choice that can be determined upon application.

How should installer’s account for manufacturers’ mail-in rebates in Attachment C: Pricing, Cost Adders, and Equipment Form?

  • MassCEC encourages working with manufacturers and distributors to get discounted pricing for the HeatSmart campaign, including mail-in rebates. These rebates could be listed in Attachment C under “Value of Incentives” and explained in the “Notes” section.  

How many square feet of conditioned space and what peak heating load should be assumed?

  • In general, MassCEC did not specify square footage or peak heat load. MassCEC expects each installer to offer different models that would be appropriate for homes with different peak heat loads. For example, for GSHP, the installer may list each heat pump with its rated heating capacity and its associated cost and then cumulatively, depending on the home, the heating capacity can be assumed. If desired, installers can include cost adders that might include additional square footage or additional heating load. For ASHP installers, MassCEC did offer an alternative and optional pricing structure by peak heating load for installers that are interested in promoting whole home solutions.

Is the GSHP base system assumption of 50 feet of casing on a per borehole basis?

  • Yes.

Can installers offer different pricing depending on the Community to which they are applying? For instance, can an installer offer one price for Nantucket and one price for Harvard/Bolton? Or, can an installer offer one price if selected for just Harvard/Bolton or if they are selected for Harvard/Bolton plus Carlisle/Concord/Lincoln?

  • Yes. Installers can offer different prices for different locations and/or combinations of locations. The installers’ proposals should accurately reflect their pricing for the town for which they might be selected. Installers who are offering different prices for different communities or scenarios should complete multiple versions of Attachment C: Pricing, cost Adder, and Equipment Form.

Technology

Does all proposed equipment have to be eligible for a MassCEC rebate?

  • Mostly yes, with the exception of centrally-ducted air-source heat pump (ASHP) equipment. MassCEC’s rebate program only has a few qualifying models and understands that homeowners may be interested in a central ASHP options and therefore is allowing best-in-class centrally ducted heat pumps to be included in the standard pricing offered through HeatSmart, even if these models are not eligible for a MassCEC rebate.  Installers can see in tab 3 of Attachment C (Pricing, Cost Adders, and Equipment Form) that there is a space for centrally-ducted equipment.

Can installers of technologies that have not been selected by a community participate in the application? For instance, could a solar hot water installer and air-source heat pump installer partner with a ground-source heat pump installer to submit a proposal for Nantucket (which only specified SHW and ASHP)

  • Generally, this is not encouraged. Communities selected their technologies because they felt those technologies would be a good fit for their Communities. It is not recommended that installers partner with installers of non-specified technologies. However, there is a place in #3 in Attachment B (Individual Application Form) for installers to list “other services” that their company offers which may be of interest to homeowners. Installers may wish to list “informal partners” in this area. For instance, if you’re a SHW installer who has a close relationship with a GSHP installer, you may include that information here but not have that GSHP installer submit all the paperwork and be a “formal partner” under the RFP.

Are twister loops eligible for GSHP installations?

  • Yes.

Are retrofits of existing GSHP systems eligible under HeatSmart?

  • The selected HeatSmart GSHP installers can offer to do retrofits as part of the program, and can offer a certain percentage discount for those projects. However, MassCEC does not anticipate that will be an easy price to standardize since retrofits are typically very custom and unpredictable, so retrofit projects would not need to be included on Attachment C: Pricing, cost Adder, and Equipment Form.

Partnering with Communities

If selected, what is the reporting process back to the communities and MassCEC?

  • MassCEC is still finalizing the reporting metrics and process and MassCEC will work with the selected installers to determine a process that works for all parties involved. As of now, the plan is to have bi-weekly calls with the community leaders, the technical consultant, MassCEC, and the installer(s). Also on a potentially weekly basis, the selected installers will submit some reporting which will include number of site visits, customer leads, signed contracts, etc.

Some of the communities’ marketing and outreach plans (available here: http://www.masscec.com/installer-resources-heatsmart-mass) only include one technology when the community seems to be including multiple technologies. How will those other technologies be promoted by the community?

  • The posted marketing plans are the plans originally submitted by the communities. During the interview process, some of the communities revised their original submission to include additional technologies. MassCEC did not require that these communities revise their application materials (including the marketing/outreach plan), but they will be an important part of the campaign. Installers can expect that the currently posted marketing/outreach plans will be largely transferrable to the other technologies, with modifications and input as they prepare for campaign planning in the coming weeks. If selected, the installer can work with the Communities to get a better understanding of their plan and help shape it.

Who will be on the installer review teams?

  • As part of the installer selection process, selected communities will appoint a community review team to review installer proposals that have met threshold technical requirements. The community review team will be made up of a municipal representative, the HeatSmart Coach (or lead volunteer), and up to two additional representatives selected by the municipal representative. With the support of MassCEC, DOER, and a technical consultant, the community review team will select up to three installers or installer partnerships per technology to invite to one day of scheduled interviews with MassCEC, DOER, the technical consultant, and the community review team.

How will the town volunteers interact with the selected installer(s)?

  • The Community volunteers will generate campaign interest and gather customer leads which they will send to the installer. As of now, the plan is to have bi-weekly calls with the community leaders, the technical consultant, MassCEC, and the installer(s). Installers may be regularly in touch with volunteers by phone, email or in-person meetings. An open line of communication is expected. The community and volunteer team agree upon these methods during their initial contact, kick off meetings, etc.

It seems that if an installer is selected, they will have to be part of meetings and be responsive to technical questions from the Community. Can an installer include time/management cost adders in their pricing proposal?

  • The installer should expect to commit to the scope of work identified in Section VI of the RFP. Attachment C (Pricing, Cost Adders, and Equipment) costs should be on a per unit basis and should account for any management costs since management costs will not be a separate item. Installers should keep in mind that marketing and customer acquisition costs will be reduced due to the nature of a concentrated area of leads and projects.

If a resident who lives in one of the selected towns and wants to install the selected technology but not use the selected installer, will they not receive MassCEC rebates?

  • MassCEC will continue to offer the full suite of rebate programs in parallel to HeatSmart. If a resident wants to use an installer outside of HeatSmart, they can still apply for a MassCEC rebate, as long as they are working with a MassCEC participating installer, however, they would not get the discounted pricing under the HeatSmart effort.