During phase 1 of the utility energy service contract (UESC) process, the agency is encouraged to contact the Federal Energy Management Program (FEMP) utility team or a federal project executive (FPE) who can help to educate the agency about procurement steps that are unique to UESCs.

Phase 1 at a Glance
Step 1: Agency Contacts the FEMP Utility Team or Federal Project Executive
Step 2: Agency Considers Procurement Requirements
Step 3: Agency Develops a Plan of Action for the Project
Phase 1 FEMP Assistance and Resources

Step 1: Agency Contacts FEMP Utility Team or Federal Project Executive

The agency contacts the FEMP utility team or a federal project executive (FPE). FEMP helps the agency take its first steps toward a UESC project by:

  • Leading an initial briefing to educate staff and management about UESCs
  • Helping determine whether a UESC project is feasible
  • Helping gain management support for the project
  • Helping determine needed FEMP project support services
  • Coordinating FEMP services, including engaging a FEMP-qualified project facilitator, if desired.

Step 2: Agency Considers Procurement Requirements

The agency contracting or procurement staff prepares to address agency-specific procurement requirements. The agency considers unique aspects of UESC procurements in these tasks, such as:

  • Assembling a UESC acquisition team
  • Determining the agency's requirements for the procurement at a high level
  • Determining the agency’s UESC training needs and developing a training plan
  • Identifying review, business clearance, and approval requirements, and responsible managers
  • Beginning to develop an acquisition plan
  • Identifying project priorities that should be considered from the start, such as resilience, cybersecurity, and grid-integrated energy efficiency building strategies.

Step 3: Agency Develops a Plan of Action for the Project

The agency lays the groundwork for soliciting the interest of utility companies. This includes:

  • Determining project motivations and site needs
  • Defining project requirements (and preparing the agency requirements document as needed)
  • Determining the utility selection procedure
  • Determining preliminary milestones for project award and implementation
  • Planning for advanced technologies such as combined heat and power and renewable energy.

Agency Develops a Limited Acquisition Plan

The agency develops a limited acquisition plan for a UESC to address project-specific technical objectives and business considerations and identify the milestones in the acquisition process. The contracting officer ensures that agency acquisition policies, guidance, and practices are followed. UESC best practices involve:

  • An integrated team approach with representation from all organizations having an interest in the project
  • The use of appropriate streamlining techniques, compliance with statutory, regulatory, and policy requirements
  • Reflecting the mission needs of the program.

Agency Drafts an Initial Justification and Approval (J&A) for Other Than Full and Open Competition

The Competition in Contracting Act requires a J&A to be executed prior to negotiations leading to the award of a contract with other than full and open competition. The agency typically begins drafting the J&A during acquisition planning to receive approval to initiate a UESC. The J&A is finalized once pricing and details of the final task order for installation are firm.

The J&A establishes the purpose of the procurement to meet energy goals and cites specific legislative and regulatory authority to restrict competition to serving utilities, including:

  • 42 U.S.C. § 8256 and 10 U.S.C. § 2913 (for the U.S. Department of Defense)
  • 41 U.S.C. § 253(c)(5)
  • Federal Acquisition Regulation Part 6.302-5

Phase 1 FEMP Assistance and Resources

Learn more about FEMP resources and assistance to help agencies complete phase 1 of the UESC process.

Next Phase

During phase 2 of the UESC process, the agency selects a utility to proceed with project development. See Phase 2: Utility Selection and Preliminary Assessment.