The Silicon Valley suburb of Palo Alto, CA, has issued a request for proposals (RFP) seeking marketing and administrative help expanding its green energy programs to “green gas” and renewable energy credit (REC) segments. A pre-proposal teleconference will be held Jan. 30 for prospective bidders, and bids are due Feb. 12 with a projected May 1 start for winning bidders.

With a city peak load of 190 MW and natural gas utility service also for its base of 28,000 customers, Palo Alto Utilities is seeking proposals from qualified firms to provide “professional services for marketing and administrative support services” in the city-run utility’s “Palo Alto Green” program.

In addition, the city said it was asking bidders who want to go further to provide separately priced options to provide RECs for the Green Program, and/or develop and implement a voluntary renewable biogas retail program for the city’s natural gas utility customers.

The bids sought are for five years overall; an initial one-year contract, with four one-year options to renew.

“[Palo Alto] currently meets [green] program demand using a combination of renewable energy supplies from long-term power purchase agreements between Palo Alto and wholesale renewable electric power suppliers, and RECs from the California Energy Commission’s approved eligible renewable resources,” the RFP said.

“The city does not currently offer a similar program for natural gas,” but the RFP indicated that it has identified potential vendors capable of supplying nonfossil biogas “converted from biological sources such as manure, landfill gas or biomass.” Palo Alto officials see the gas program as a potential means to give residents a chance to voluntarily choose a gas supply program that can help reduce greenhouse gas emissions associated with natural gas use.

Palo Alto launched its voluntary green power program five years ago, and since then it has achieved what the city characterized as the “highest participation rate of any green power program” in the nation as reported by the U.S. Energy Department’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory.

After beginning in 2003 with a 5.1% participation rate, representing 0.5% of its annual sales, the Palo Alto program at mid-2007 had a 22% participation rate among its customers, representing 45,316 MWh annually, or 4.5% of the city’s total annual sales in 2007.

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