Structuring Contract Documents for Competitive bids


Senior Member
Boston, MA
I'm currently dotting the i's and crossing the t's on a Medium Voltage substation replacement project. Our client wants to use all pad mounted equipment including 4160V voltage regulators, something only a single vendor makes. Naturally, this will give that vendor a substantial advantage in winning the entire pad mounted gear package (which consist of, in addition to the VR's, consist of 7 group mounted vacuum fault interrupter type switch assemblies, 1 of which is a 35kV, the others 4160V). What I'm looking for is advice on how to structure the contract documents in a way that will force this vendor to be competitive at least on the equipment for which there are multiple vendors.

I'm wondering if we could, for example, define pricing for the pad mounted VR's such that it was a constant and the contractors could then seek pricing on the balance of the package from multiple vendors. But of course, if the the vendor with advantage makes that price high enough, he can then afford to proffer a lower price tag on the other equipment.

Anyway, I'm open to suggestion.


Senior Member
Northern illinois
Chances are the bidder knows he is the only bidder so going to a lot of trouble to try and fool him will likely not work at getting a lower price.

This may seem counter-intuitive but many times the manufacturers of this kind of stuff actually give out better deals in sole source arrangements than when there is so called competitive bidding.


Senior Member
Ask for unit breakout pricing on anything you want to compare. They can still submit an overall contractual price for the Works, but tell them in the wording that the unit pricing will be utilized for the bid evaluations and the evaluated price is what will be used for award of contract.

Typically, the guys pricing the job to other contractors that may have to buy the proprietary equipment, are different than the ones pricing for themselves so often they will stay competitive.

Also, don't limit the contract such that each bidder has to use a single equipment supplier.


If we know an owner prefers one vender over another, we encourage the bid to be open to multiple vendors. Then have alternates for the preferred vendor. That will show you if there is a premium to use a preferred vendor. I?m not familiar with substation design, but can the pad mounted voltage regular be bid as an alternate? Or the alternate could be to remove the ?pad mounted? language to allow other options. That way the owner also knows the cost for that decision.