State outlines and flags for Colorado, New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming overlaid on a photo of a desert landscape.

A coalition of four states signed a Memorandum of Understanding in February 2022 aimed towards creating a partnership that would create a regional hydrogen hub in the west of the country, the Western Inter-States Hydrogen Hub (WISHH). Now, the coalition has taken a big step forward, announcing a Request for Proposals for a prime contractor on the project on July 21, 2022.

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Colorado, New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming will be working together to compete for a portion of the $8 billion that was allocated to create hydrogen hubs in the 2021 Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.

The project itself is a focus of the Bipartisan Infrastructure law’s $8 billion program to develop regional hydrogen hubs across the United States, called H2Hubs.

“Hydrogen energy has the power to slash emissions from multiple carbon-intensive sectors and open a world of economic opportunity to clean energy businesses and workers across the country,” said US Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm.

Understandably, the amount of work for any prospective contractor leading the project will be very significant, and there aren’t full guarantees attached to winning the WISHH proposal — later phases of the project are dependent on winning further Department of Energy H2Hubs funds.

As it currently stands, the project’s scope of work notes that the prime contractor will have to do a lot of early-stage analysis of the project. Commercial/ industry analysis, environmental studies, and workforce analysis will all be part of the first part of the project.

Importantly, the first phase includes equity, environmental, and energy justice analysis, which will involve the creation of a plan that establishes how the project will impact indigenous communities and lands in the area.

The prime contractor is also going to be expected to provide significant work in terms of engaging with other contractors. Given the struggles of contractors within the industry to maintain their pre-pandemic habits with regards to the supply chain and workforce, it’s no surprise that the coalition for WISHH is looking for someone who can navigate these parts of the industry effectively.

Requirements for the prospective Prime Contractor

The coalition’s Request for Proposals document states that the selected company needs to “Develop a methodology for collecting, screening and selecting potential industrial partners” alongside scouting for “likely contributors (producers, transporters, end users, workforce, infrastructure)” to the project as a whole.

The prime contractor will also be expected to participate in setting up workshops to develop subcontractors’ possible involvement in the H2Hubs proposal, focusing on those who can reasonably be expected to “provide value in the development of work, tasks and deliverables.”

Big job experience is going to be a must for work like this, and it’ll certainly be one of the deciding factors for this project: The coalition notes that it’s looking for a company with experience handling multi-party government contracts in the range of $1 billion to $2 billion, and preferably those with experience working on major projects for the US Department of Energy.

Connected directly to this scouting work, it’s expected that the project will have many subcontractors involved across all of the included states, making it important that the prime contractor has extensive experience both with working across multiple jurisdictions and with having an internal system that can handle collaborating with so many subcontractors.

The RFP closing date for this project is August 16, 2022. Additional copies of this RFP are available via the Wyoming Energy Authority website.

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