On or before January 1, 2012, and from time to time thereafter, as the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection determines to be in the best interests of Connecticut customers, the department shall initiate a generation evaluation and procurement process. The evaluation process shall entail a nonbinding prequalification process to identify potentially eligible new generators. Interested generators shall submit to the department information demonstrating how the generator will reduce electrical rates for Connecticut ratepayers while maintaining or improving reliability, improving environmental characteristics of the Connecticut generation fleet and providing economic benefit to Connecticut. A determination of eligibility shall be based on a showing of project attributes, including, but not limited to, ratepayer, environmental and economic benefits, as well as a demonstration of reasonable certainty of completion of development, construction and permitting activities. If the department makes a determination of eligibility of one or more generators, it shall issue a request for proposals to consider bilateral purchasing contracts from new generators by pricing such electricity on a cost-of-service basis, power purchase agreement or other mechanism the department determines to be in the best interest of Connecticut customers, which contracts shall directly or indirectly, or in combination with other initiatives, provide electricity at lower rates for Connecticut consumers. Such contracts shall be for a term of not less than five and not more than twenty years and shall provide that development, construction and operation risk be borne by the generator. Generators shall be awarded contracts based on criteria, including, but not limited to, reduction of rates, generator’s heat rate, decrease in regulated pollution and cost-effectiveness.