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Utilities Commission Looks to Expand Renewables System

In a new request for proposal, the California Department of Technology and the California Public Utilities Commission seek responses from IT companies interested in working on the Renewables Portfolio Standard Database System Expansion Project.

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The state commission charged with safeguarding customers and ensuring reliable, safe utility service is looking for help from IT companies to refresh a key platform.

In a request for proposal (RFP) released Wednesday, being conducted under the authority of the California Department of Technology (CDT) for the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), the entities seek assistance on the “Renewables Portfolio Standard Database System (RPSD) Expansion Project – Implementation Services” – by hiring an “implementation contractor to replicate and expand the functionalities of the existing RPSD system.” Among the takeaways:

  • The state’s Renewables Portfolio Standard (RPS), according to the RFP, is among the nation’s “most ambitious” renewable energy standards. First established by lawmakers in 2002 and modified on an ongoing basis as recently as 2018, the RPS program mandates investor-owned utilities (IOUs), publicly owned utilities (POUs), electric service providers (ESPs), and community choice aggregators (CCAs) increase their procurement from eligible renewable energy resources to 60 percent of their total procurement by 2030 with “interim targets” of 40 percent by Dec. 31, 2024, and 52 percent by Dec. 31, 2027. The CPUC has oversight over IOUs, CCAs and ESPs; the California Energy Commission has oversight authority over POUs. The RPS database stores and tracks project information from the “three large IOUs”; it has reporting requirements aimed at facilitating “the need for the large IOUs to submit data to CPUC staff” and simplifying and improving the submission process. Generally, the RPS database lets CPUC staff respond to “an increasing number of internal and external stakeholder data requests” used to track the state’s progress on its “renewable energy goals, renewable procurement decisions and integrated resource planning.” Passage of state Senate Bill 697 and Senate Bill 350 in 2015 saw new RPS tracking, compliance and reporting requirements generate a need for “additional functionality and user interfaces.”
  • The existing RPS database system is hosted in an Amazon Web Services (AWS) GovCloud account owned by CPUC and operated by the contractor that developed the system. It includes a database, a web portal, a data transformation batch process, a database interface via Tableau for staff, and database access via an external Python program, per the RFP. The state needs a custom-developed system built upon a copy of the existing system and with components and functionalities including a “post-GIS database component for geospatial data storage and retrieval,” a public website separate from the web portal and linked to the RPS program home page. The state also needs the web portal to interface to open source mapping software and base maps to enable “data visualizations for shapefiles and RPS project locations”; the portal’s scope to be expanded to a broader user base of retailers, and to enable additional data file submission to follow RPS procurements. It needs “hosting of interactive Tableau workbooks in Tableau Public server, with them interfaced via the web portal and the public website; batch processes and scripts for “data transformation, data refresh and data upload to Tableau Public,” and proposes the use of “HighCharts software/JavaScript libraries” or similar products for additional data visualizations.
  • Bidder requirements include having completed three to five projects “of equivalent or greater scope and size as the RPSD project” within the last 10 years; five years’ experience doing system architecture and design on similar or larger projects, project management experience on medium to large software development or implementations with software development life cycle methodology and doing system design and development on comparable projects. Also required is three years’ experience with data migration, including analysis, profiling and cleanup; and doing testing, including creating test plans, scripts, data and interface/integration testing. There’s also three years’ experience required planning and developing training material including case studies, labs and exercises; doing system deployments, including transition and release planning; and in AWS Cloud/GovCloud platform, doing resource provisioning, configuration and system environment.
  • Contract term, pending CDT approval, will be two and a half years, with two optional one-year extensions. The precise contract value is not stated. Intents to bid are due by Tuesday. Written questions are due by 12 p.m. July 1, with responses coming July 8. Responses are due by 2 p.m. July 22 and will be evaluated Aug. 1-12, with negotiations Aug. 19. Best and final offers are due Aug. 29, and a notification of award is expected Sept. 6. The anticipated project start date is Sept. 21.
Theo Douglas is Assistant Managing Editor of Industry Insider — California.