Frequently Asked Questions

Select a FOA to view questions and answers for the specific funding opportunity. Alternatively select "Non-FOA related items" to view system FAQ items.

Question 1: Is the new funding different than the one that was out earlier in the year? Will we have a chance to know if applications submitted for the previous funding opportunity have been awarded?
Answer 1:

Funding Opportunity Announcement’s (FOAs) are generally distinct from one another and a thorough review of each is necessary to understand any differences. However, this FOA (De-FOA-0002317) is very similar to the previous FOA (DE-FOA-0002168). To learn more about the recently issued FOA and any differences from the previous FOA, please join our webinar April 7, 2020 at 3:00 Eastern.

 

Per the FOA documents, “DOE will notify all Applicants of its eligibility and selection determinations. The selection notification letter will inform the Applicant if its application was selected for award negotiations, or not. Alternatively, DOE may notify one or more Applicants that a final selection determination on particular applications may be made at a later date, subject to the availability of funds or other factors. Written feedback on all eligible applications will also be provided at the time of notification. Ineligible applications will not be reviewed or considered for award negotiations. If determined ineligible, the Contracting Officer will send a notification letter by email to the technical and administrative points of contact designated by the Applicant in EERE Exchange. The notification letter will state the basis upon which the application is ineligible and not considered for further review.”

 

Regarding applications submitted to the previous FOA (DE-FOA-0002168), those applications are currently under comprehensive review and once selections decisions made, all applicants will be notified.
Question 2: The FOA states that "Except for pre-award costs with prior DOE approval, only cost share contributions made during the period of performance of the grant, if awarded, can be considered. Any costs incurred prior to award selection cannot be considered as cost share or for reimbursement by DOE." Under Topic Area 1.b, energy audits or industrial energy assessments are required in the application. Could the fees paid for an energy audit or industrial energy assessment be a reimbursable pre-award cost if the applicant is approved?
Answer 2:

No, fees paid for an energy audit or industrial energy assessment are not reimbursable by DOE or as cost share since these costs would be incurred prior to award selection.

Question 3: Can you please tell me what the differences are between “Energy Infrastructure Deployment on Tribal Lands – 2020” (DE-FOA-0002168), and “Energy Technology Deployment on Tribal Lands – 2020” (DE-FOA-0002317)? These two (2) opportunities appear to offer almost identical Topic Areas. Also, will “Energy Infrastructure Deployment On Tribal Lands” continue to be offered in future fiscal year funding cycles?
Answer 3:

Funding Opportunity Announcement’s (FOAs) are generally distinct from one another and a thorough review of each is necessary to understand any differences. However, this FOA (De-FOA-0002317) is very similar to the previous FOA (DE-FOA-0002168). To learn more about the recently issued FOA and any differences from the previous FOA, please join our webinar April 7, 2020 at 3:00 Eastern.

 

It is anticipated that the Office of Indian Energy will continue to offer funding opportunities, however, funding is subject to annual Congressional appropriations and, as such, it is not possible to predict when the next opportunity will be made available or what type of projects or activities will be solicited. To be notified of future funding opportunities, please be sure to sign up for the Office of Indian Energy’s listserv at the bottom-right corner of our website at http://www.energy.gov/indianenergy/office-indian-energy-policy-and-programs or for current funding opportunities, see our funding page at http://energy.gov/indianenergy/funding.

Question 4: Can funds be used to replace batteries in existing energy systems?
Answer 4:

The funding opportunity Announcement (FOA) is fuel and technology neutral. Energy storage system(s) on a community scale are specifically being sought under Topic Area 2.b. (Community Energy Storage), where “Energy storage system(s)” for purposes of this FOA, include, but are not limited to, batteries, pumped hydropower, flywheels, compressed air energy storage, or thermal energy storage systems. [Emphasis added]

 

Energy storage system(s) such as batteries are also eligible under Topic Area 3 and Topic Area 4, if integrated into an “Integrated Energy System(s)” which for purposes of this FOA, “are system(s) that provide power to essential tribal facilities or Tribal Buildings and must, as a minimum, include, (1) energy generating system(s) and (2) controls and management system(s), and may include (3) energy storage system(s)” assuming the other requirements of those Topic Areas are met. See Appendix A of the FOA for definitions.

 

Beginning on page 23 of the FOA relative to Topic Area 3, eligible ““integrated energy system(s)” under Topic Area 3 must, as a minimum, provide power for essential tribal facilities and must, as a minimum, include, (1) energy generating system(s) and (2) controls and management system(s), and may include (3) energy storage system(s). Although integrated energy system(s) must include as a minimum an energy generating system(s) and controls and management system(s) and may include energy storage system(s), some components may already exist and therefore, not all of the components need be proposed for DOE funding; however, the integrated energy system(s) as a whole must meet the requirements under Topic Area 3.”

 

Therefore, depending on the Topic Area and assuming all other requirements of that Topic Area are met, an energy storage system(s) such as batteries is an eligible technology under this FOA.

Question 5: Can we apply for the purchase of a generator with the grant funds or as matching costs?
Answer 5:

The funding opportunity Announcement (FOA) is fuel and technology neutral. Section I.B. (Topic Areas/Technical Areas of Interest) of the FOA states, “DOE is seeking applications for energy generating system(s) which under this FOA includes combined heat and power system(s), conventional distributed generation system(s) and renewable energy system(s).”

 

As it applies to Topic Area 1.a., 1.c. and 2.a. and as integrated into an integrated energy system(s) under Topic Area 3 and 4, ““Energy generating system(s)” for purposes of this FOA include: (1) combined heat and power system(s), (2) conventional distributed generation system(s) and (3) renewable energy system(s)”, where “Conventional distributed generation system(s),” for purposes of this FOA, include, but are not limited to, gas turbines (combustion engine), generators, reciprocating engines, stirling engines, microturbines, or combustion steam turbines.” [Emphasis added] specifically, see page 17 of the FOA or Appendix A for definitions.

 

Therefore, depending on the Topic Area and assuming all other requirements of that Topic Area are met, a generator is an eligible technology under this FOA.

Question 6: Can we utilize NAHASDA funding as our match?
Answer 6:

Per Section III. B. Cost Sharing on page 34 of the Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA), states that “All cost share must come from non-federal sources and be clearly identified in the application, unless otherwise allowed by law” and provides some instances where federal funds may be permissible for use as cost share, such as funds provided under the Native American Housing Assistance and Self-Determination Act (NAHASDA) of 1996 (25 U.S.C. 4101, et seq.) and it’s implementing regulation (24 CFR §1000.122) that states, that “[t]here is no prohibition in NAHASDA against using grant funds as matching funds.”

 

Under that same section (page 35) it also provides guidance on the documentation needed if funds form a federal source are being proposed either as additional federal funds against the total project costs or as non-federal cost share, as allowed by law. Specifically, that “the Applicant must provide a commitment letter from the federal agency as part of the application that specifically commits those funds and identifies the statutory authority that allows those funds to be used for the project being proposed. Additionally, if those funds are to be used as non-federal cost share, the commitment letter must also include the excerpt from the statutory authority that allows those funds to be used as non-federal cost share. These commitment letters will be reviewed to determine allowability, by DOE Legal Counsel and the Contracting Officer, prior to accepting funds as either additional federal project funds or non-federal cost share from other federal sources.”  

Question 7: Will hydrogen storage technologies qualify under DE-FOA-0002317?
Answer 7:

As stated in Section III.F. Questions Regarding Eligibility (page 39) of the Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA), “DOE will not make eligibility determinations for potential Applicants prior to the date on which applications to this FOA must be submitted. The decision of whether to submit an application in response to this FOA lies solely with the Applicant.

 

However, based on the limited information provided, we offer the following:

 

As stated in the FOA under Appendix A (page 94) of the FOA, ““Energy Storage System(s)” for purposes of this FOA, include, but are not limited to, batteries, pumped hydropower, flywheels, compressed air energy storage, or thermal energy storage systems.” [Emphasis added] Therefore, hydrogen storage technology, provided it is at least a Technology Readiness Level (TRL) of 9, is not prohibited under this FOA, as long as it meets the other requirements of the specific Topic Area and FOA.

Question 8: I am helping tribal groups in rural Alaska prepare applications for the recent Indian Energy FOA's Topic Area 1.b. Because of the recent travel restrictions put in place by the Alaskan governor in response to the COVID pandemic, we are having trouble completing the technical volume. Recruiting an energy auditor to audit the buildings and hiring an engineer to design an energy efficient heating, ventilating and air conditioning (HVAC) retrofit are both now unable to be accomplished because neither can travel to evaluate the sites. From conversations with potential auditors or engineers, neither feel comfortable providing a distance assessment. How would you suggest addressing these constraints? I am sure all interested applicants who do not have an energy audit, feasibility study or design schematics on hand are faced with a similar challenge.
Answer 8:

Currently, there are no plans to extend the due date for applications in response to this Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA); however, we are monitoring the impacts of COVID-19 and will continue to evaluate whether an extension is appropriate. Nonetheless, to be eligible under Topic Area 1.b., an energy audit or audits, as well as a Technical Volume are required at the time of submission.  

 

If the FOA due date is extended, anyone who is registered in grants.gov, has subscribed to the original FOA posting, and subscribe to opportunities, will receive a notification via email. For more information on how to subscribe in Grants.gov, see

https://www.grants.gov/help/html/help/index.htm?callingApp=custom#t=Connect%2FSubscribeToOpportunities.htm. Note that application will not be accepted through Grants.gov. Only complete applications submitted to EERE Exchange by the due date, will be considered.

Question 9: One key definition in the FOA Appendix was “Community-scale” for purposes of Topic Area 2, means serving a “substantial” number of the total buildings within a community, or a “substantial” portion of the community’s energy load, or an entire tribal community. Then, referring back to Page 21 of the FOA there is the statement "Affect a substantial number of buildings within a tribal community (no less than three (3) buildings); and”. Therefore, is at least three (3) buildings in community or economic development complex area the threshold number?
Answer 9:

The FOA is currently being amended to remove the language pertaining to “no less than three (3) buildings” and therefore, the requirement is to “[a]ffect a substantial number of buildings within a tribal community”, where substantial means of “ample or considerable amount”.

 

Specifically, under “Topic Area 2, DOE is seeking applications for the deployment of community-scale energy generating system(s) or community energy storage on Tribal Lands affecting a “substantialnumber of the total buildings within a community, or a “substantial” portion of the community’s energy load, or an entire tribal community, where for purposes of this FOA, “substantial” means of “ample or considerable amount”.”

 

Additionally, “as part of the Technical Volume, an explanation and rationale as to how the proposed project meets the community-scale requirement, specifically addressing the “substantial” element, is required (see Section IV.C.4).”

 

Anyone who is registered in grants.gov, has subscribed to the original FOA posting, and subscribe to opportunities will receive a notification via email. For more information on how to subscribe in Grants.gov, see

https://www.grants.gov/help/html/help/index.htm?callingApp=custom#t=Connect%2FSubscribeToOpportunities.htm

Question 10: 1) Is there any consideration to delaying the application deadline due complications from the coronavirus (COVID-19)? 2) Is this the only Energy Technology Deployment on Tribal Lands grant anticipated for 2020?
Answer 10:

1)   Currently, there are no plans to extend the due date for applications in response to this FOA; however, we are monitoring the situation and will continue to evaluate whether an extension is appropriate.

 

2)   It is anticipated that the Office of Indian Energy will continue to offer funding opportunities; however, funding is subject to annual Congressional appropriations and, as such, it is not possible to predict when the next funding opportunity will be made available or what types of projects or activities will be sought. As this is the second Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) issued during fiscal year 2020 it is unlikely that another FOA will be issued this fiscal year.

 

To be notified of future funding opportunities, please be sure to sign up for email updates from the Office of Indian Energy’s at the bottom-right corner of our website at http://www.energy.gov/indianenergy/office-indian-energy-policy-and-programs or for current funding opportunities, see our funding page at http://energy.gov/indianenergy/funding.

 

Question 11: Are we able to use BIA 638 (PL93-638) funds provided under Indian Education and Self-Determination Act as our non-federal match?
Answer 11:

Per Section III. B. Cost Sharing on page 34 of the Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA), states that “All cost share must come from non-federal sources and be clearly identified in the application, unless otherwise allowed by law” and provides some instances where federal funds may be permissible for use as cost share, such as funds provided under the Indian Self-Determination Act (Public Law 93-638), self-determination contract funding through 25 U.S.C § 450h(c) and compact funding under 25 U.S.C. § 450j-1(j).

 

Under that same section (page 35) it also provides guidance on the documentation needed if funds form a federal source are being proposed eitheras additional federal funds against the total project costs or as non-federal cost share, as allowed by law. Specifically, that “the Applicant must provide a commitment letter from the federal agency as part of the application that specifically commits those funds and identifies the statutory authority that allows those funds to be used for the project being proposed. Additionally, if those funds are to be used as non-federal cost share, the commitment letter must also include the excerpt from the statutory authority that allows those funds to be used as non-federal cost share. These commitment letters will be reviewed to determine allowability, by DOE Legal Counsel and the Contracting Officer, prior to accepting funds as either additional federal project funds or non-federal cost share from other federal sources.”  

Question 12: Can a Tribe receive an FY20 award if they received an FY19 award and it is still in progress?
Answer 12:

As stated in Section III.F. Questions Regarding Eligibility (page 39) of the Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA), “DOE will not make eligibility determinations for potential Applicants prior to the date on which applications to this FOA must be submitted. The decision of whether to submit an application in response to this FOA lies solely with the Applicant.

 

However, we offer the following:

 

An eligible entity may apply under the Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) DE-FOA-0002317, even if they were previously awarded under a prior FOA; however, the activities proposed must not be duplicative, and may not supplement an existing funded project, although those previously funded activities could be complimentary to those activities to be proposed under the currently open FOA.

 

Be aware, however, that one of the program policy factors that may be considered in determining which applications to select for award negotiations is whether “Applicants who have not previously received a grant from the Office of Indian Energy” (see Section V.C. on page 77).

Question 13: 1) It was stated in the presentation that casinos are eligible, but then in the Topic Area 3 discussion I thought it seemed like they were implying casinos must be designated as emergency shelter’s to be eligible. Could you clarify if casino’s not designated as emergency shelters would be eligible? 2) Would the development of a tribally owned electrical substation that is being built to liberate the tribe from dependence on the incumbent utilities substation qualify as an integrated energy system? I ask because the substation project development would not include development of new generation sources, rather it would connect with existing energy generation sources, so I am concerned that distinction might disqualify the project.
Answer 13:

As stated in Section III.F. Questions Regarding Eligibility (page 39) of the Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA), “DOE will not make eligibility determinations for potential Applicants prior to the date on which applications to this FOA must be submitted. The decision of whether to submit an application in response to this FOA lies solely with the Applicant.

 

However, based on the limited information provided, we offer the following:

 

Per Appendix A of the FOA and page 15, “Tribal Building(s)” may include a single or multiple ““Tribally-owned or controlled building(s)” located on Tribal Lands”, where for purposes of the FOA, Tribally-owned or controlled building(s) “is a building or buildings where the eligible entity has the authority to augment or modify the building and where the building is either owned by the eligible entity or tribal members, or the eligible entity has a long-term lease (as a minimum, for the useful life of the proposed project). “Tribal Building(s)” may include, but are not limited to, tribal member homes, schools, community buildings, clinics/hospitals, tribal government buildings, fire stations, police stations, radio stations, washaterias, utility facilities (such as water/waste water systems), tribal casinos, or tribal businesses.”

 

However, you are correct in that under Topic Area 3, system(s) proposed must be for “essential tribal facilities” as defined on page 23. Each Topic Area should be fully reviewed to determine if the planned project meets the requirements of that specific Topic Area.

 

With regarding to the ‘development of a tribally owned electrical substation’, an electrical substation does not, in and of itself, meet the definition of an integrated energy system. See the definition of an integrated energy system beginning on page 23 of the FOA.

 

Specifically, “[i]nterconnection infrastructure such as distribution substations, circuits, circuit breakers, switchgear, busbars, distribution lines, distribution transformers, capacitors, voltage regulators, meters, and utility poles, may be proposed under Topic Area 3.b., provided the proposed infrastructure is essential to the proposed project.” [Emphasis added] In other words, under Topic Area 3, a substation would only be eligible if ancillary to the proposed integrated energy system and only if it is essential to the proposed integrated energy system project.

 

Additionally, substations may be eligible under Topic Area 4, but only to provide electricity to unelectrified Tribal Buildings.

Question 14: I am having difficulty saving and submitting the Project Data Metrics File. Exchange will only allow files with the extensions .xls and .xlsx and the file is saving with the extension .xlsm. How do I submit this file?
Answer 14:

The drop down selections in the Project Data Metrics File give the file an extension that is .xlsm. To submit the file, once completed, save the file as .xls or .xlsx and then submit.

 

 

 

Question 15: Given the current economic downturn, is there a possibility to lower the 50% cost share requirement = e.g. 25% instead?
Answer 15:

As required by statute, a 50% cost share of the total allowable costs of the project (i.e., the sum of the DOE share, and the Recipient share of allowable costs equals the total allowable cost of the project) is required under this FOA. [Emphasis added]

 

However, DOE is monitoring the situation and will continue to evaluate whether a reduction in cost share is appropriate.   

 

Anyone who is registered in Grants.gov, has subscribed to the original Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) posting, and subscribed to opportunities will receive a notification via email of any changes to the FOA. For more information on how to subscribe in Grants.gov, see

https://www.grants.gov/help/html/help/index.htm?callingApp=custom#t=Connect%2FSubscribeToOpportunities.htm. Note that applications to this FOA will only be accepted in EERE Exchange; however, to be notified of any changes to the FOA, please subscribe to notifications in Grants.gov as described above.

Question 16: Is there a period of time after the awarding of the grant by which time the project must be completed?
Answer 16:

Per Section II. 2 (Page 31) of the Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA), “DOE anticipates making awards with a period of performances of approximately one (1) to two (2) years, but no longer than three (3) years including the mandatory 12 month verification period.”

Question 17: I am working with a tribal college on a potential solar deployment project. Are tribal colleges eligible for the DOE Tribal Energy Grants?
Answer 17:


As stated in Section III.F. Questions Regarding Eligibility (page 39) of the Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA), “DOE will not make eligibility determinations for potential Applicants prior to the date on which applications to this FOA must be submitted. The decision of whether to submit an application in response to this FOA lies solely with the Applicant.”

 

 However, we offer the following:

 

 Per Section III. A. (page 31) of the FOA, “[i]n accordance with EPAct 2005 authorities and consistent with 2 CFR 910.126(b), eligibility for award under this FOA is restricted to: (1) an Indian Tribe; (2) Intertribal Organization; or (3) Tribal Energy Development Organization; and (4) on whose Tribal Lands the project(s) will be located.” Additionally, under that same section, the FOA states, “Applications may also be submitted on behalf of Indian Tribe(s) by an authorized “Tribal Organization”, provided evidence of that authority is included as part of the application.” For a definition of Tribal Organization, see Section III.A, Eligible Applicants.

As stated in Section III.F. Questions Regarding Eligibility (page 39) of the Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA), “DOE will not make eligibility determinations for potential Applicants prior to the date on which applications to this FOA must be submitted. The decision of whether to submit an application in response to this FOA lies solely with the Applicant.”

 

 However, we offer the following:

 

 Per Section III. A. (page 31) of the FOA, “[i]n accordance with EPAct 2005 authorities and consistent with 2 CFR 910.126(b), eligibility for award under this FOA is restricted to: (1) an Indian Tribe; (2) Intertribal Organization; or (3) Tribal Energy Development Organization; and (4) on whose Tribal Lands the project(s) will be located.” Additionally, under that same section, the FOA states, “Applications may also be submitted on behalf of Indian Tribe(s) by an authorized “Tribal Organization”, provided evidence of that authority is included as part of the application.” For a definition of Tribal Organization, see Section III.A, Eligible Applicants.

Question 18: We are currently thinking of drilling two or more new long leg (1 mile+) shallow horizontal wells into coal to greatly enhance the gas interception capacity of the system and hopefully significantly reducing the amount of methane seepage at the outcrop to atmosphere. This would be similar to technology used to degas coal mines before and during shallow mining operations. We are evaluating using the collected gas for heating system gas distributed to utilities and setting up a utility scale gas turbine plant for sale of electricity to the Tribe and the grid. We would use the grant funding (and the Tribal match) for drilling the horizontal collection wells to feed the system. We think this could fit under category 2A in the grant package FOA. But it is unconventional enough that we wanted to sound the idea first. We know “DOE will not make eligibility determinations for potential Applicants prior to the date on which applications to this FOA must be submitted. The decision of whether to submit an application in response to this FOA lies solely with the Applicant.” But any input you can provide would be appreciated.
Answer 18:

As referenced in your question, “DOE will notmake eligibility determinations for potential Applicants prior to the date on which applications to this FOA must be submitted. The decision of whether to submit an application in response to this FOA lies solely with the Applicant.”

 

However, we offer the following: To be eligible under Topic Area 2.a., the FOA states:

 

Under Topic Area 2.a. (Community-Scale Energy Generating System(s) of the Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA), (Section I.B. in page 21), “DOE is seeking applications for the deployment of community-scale energy generating system(s) to provide electricity and/or heating or cooling to a substantial number of the total buildings within a community, or a substantial portion of the total community’s energy load, or an entire tribal community. [Emphasis added]

 

Therefore, if the project proposed for funding is solely for “drilling the horizontal collection wells” as described and does not result in the generation of electricity and/or heating or cooling, it would not meet the intent or requirements of the FOA. 

 

If, however, the project being proposed will generate electricity and/or heating or cooling to a substantial number of total buildings within a community, the project may be eligible, provided it meets all other requirements of the FOA. Such other requirements include, but are not limited to, those itemized below and the use of commercially-proven warrantied technology.  Please also note that to be commercial, the technology must be Technology Readiness Level (TRL) of 9, where TRL 9 is “Commercial-Scale Production/Application”.  See Appendix A of the FOA for a definition.

 

(1)  Provide an Options Analysis to demonstrate that other options were considered and that the proposed energy generating system(s) best meets the overall tribal objectives;

(2)  Be based on a feasibility study that identifies the need and demonstrates the availability of the resource and the technical and economic viability of the proposed energy generating system(s) and the feasibility study must be provided as part of the application;

(3) Include an estimate of the energy generated annually (amount, cost, and percentage) for the tribal community through the proposed energy generating system(s);

(4) Be a minimum of 100 kW rated capacity (or for heating or cooling the Btu equivalent of 170,607 Btu/hr.);

(5) Affect a substantial number of buildings within a tribal community (no less than three (3) buildings); and

(6) Use commercially-proven warrantied technology (see the definition of “commercially-proven” and “warrantied” under Appendix A). (Emphasis added)

 

Question 19: We have a question regarding your 'not of interest,' category and example below. We have an advanced prototype micro-combined heat and power system that we are currently participating in pilot study and it is in final design and engineering phase, TRL 8. We would propose the production of 20-30 systems for employment on tribal lands in a configuration to be determined with Tribal leadership, with whom we've been engaging. Tribal Grant 'Not of Interest' Excerpt: “Applications proposing studies, design and engineering (excluding final design and engineering), or development (pre-construction) activities; or any other activity which does not directly result in the installation of equipment to generate electricity and/or heating or cooling, reduce energy use, or enhance energy storage and delivery infrastructure.” Please let us know if our technology meets this Tribal Grant's standards for application? We greatly appreciate the clarification, as we would like to pursue the opportunity but only if DoE deems our technology at the appropriate level of 'final design and engineering' as we've outline above, and also per this grant's standards?
Answer 19:

As stated in Section III.F. Questions Regarding Eligibility (page 39) of the Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA), “DOE will not make eligibility determinations for potential Applicants prior to the date on which applications to this FOA must be submitted. The decision of whether to submit an application in response to this FOA lies solely with the Applicant.”

 

However, we offer the following:

 

Per Appendix A. of the Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) (Page 92):  “Commercially-proven” for purposes of this FOA, means the technology must be at least a Technology Readiness Level (TRL) of 9, where TRL 9 is “Commercial-Scale Production/Application” and represents an in-service application of the technology in its final form and under mission condition and at TRL 9, the actual, commercial-scale system is proven through successful mission operations, whereby it is fielded and being used in commercial application. Information relative to the technology and its TRL should be provided as part of the application. For more on TRL, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Technology_readiness_level.”

 

Additionally, it is unclear what is meant by “production of 20-30 systems”; however, be aware ‘manufacturing’ activities are not of interest either (see Section I.C. on page 29).

  



Question 20: If a Tribe's project would be able to pay a loan back in a short amount of time could a third party finance their 50%?
Answer 20:

Loans are an allowable form of cost share, provided equipment to be purchased under the grant agreement is not used as collateral for the loan. Specifically, see page 4 of the Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) which states “[t]he non-Federal entity cannot encumber this equipment without approval of the Federal awarding agency and must follow the requirements of 2 CFR 200.313 before disposing of the equipment.”

 

Section IV. C. 12 (Page 63) of the FOA, states, “"Cost Sharing" is not limited to cash investment. Allowable contributions (e.g., contribution of time, unrecovered indirect costs, facilities and administrative costs, rental value of buildings (not the purchase value), lease value of land or equipment (not the purchase value), and the value of a service, other resource, or third party in-kind contributions) incurred as part of the project may be considered as all or part of the cost share. Only cost share contributions made during the period of performance of the grant can be considered.”

 

Page 5 of the FOA states, “cost share must be available or accessible at the time of submission of the application, as described below. A written assurance (e.g., commitment) must be provided at the time of application submission. The written assurance (e.g., commitment) is a binding guarantee that funds are available or, with respect to the use of equipment, contributed labor hours, or unrecovered indirect costs, accessible. Cost share commitments cannot be dependent on some future event, such as receiving a grant, obtaining a loan, or securing an investor. [Emphasis added]. That paragraph on cost share goes on to state, “although the cost share requirement applies to the project as a whole (including work performed by members of the project team other than the Recipient) the Recipient is ultimately and legally responsible for the entire amount of cost share if an award is made.”

 

Question 21: Can we work with the tribes and apply for the grants in working with them? Or would they have to pay us and apply for the grant?
Answer 21:

Only an eligible entity, as defined in Section III.A. of the Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA), may submit an application under this FOA. As stated in Section III.F. on page 39 of the FOA, however, “[t]he decision of whether to submit an application in response to this FOA lies solely with the Applicant". Any business arrangements between an eligible entity and an industry partner or vendor is outside the purview of DOE; however, if an award was to be made, no pre-award costs such as those for preparation of an application can be considered for reimbursement or as cost share (see Pre-award Costs on page 3 of the FOA).   

 

Question 22: I am reaching out in regards to the DOE Energy Grant (DE-FOA-0002317). I represent a tribe which is in the process of putting together a wellness center in response to Covid-19. They are pursuing multiple funding opportunities to pay for the center using covid-19 related health grants that have stemmed from the CARES Act. However funding is not completely set yet, so there isn’t a 100% green light on the project. When the wellness center is completed, the tribe plans on installing solar and geothermal combination of heating and cooling to energize the center. I would like to know whether you believe it would be worth pursuing this DOE grant now in order to pay for the solar/geothermal or whether this project would not be considered for the grant since funding is not at 100% on the wellness center?
Answer 22:

As stated in Section III.F. Questions Regarding Eligibility (page 39) of the Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA), “DOE will not make eligibility determinations for potential Applicants prior to the date on which applications to this FOA must be submitted. The decision of whether to submit an application in response to this FOA lies solely with the Applicant.”

 

However, based on the limited information provided, we offer the following: 

 

Per Section I.C. of the FOA (page 29) identified applications not of interest. Specifically, “[a]pplications proposing studies, design and engineering (excluding final design and engineering), or development (pre-construction) activities; or any other activity which does not directly result in the installation of equipment to generate electricity and/or heating or cooling, reduce energy use, or enhance energy storage and delivery infrastructure” are not of interest.

 

Further, under Topic Area 1 (page 16 of the FOA), “[f]or Tribally-owned or controlled building(s) that are currently being constructed or planned to be constructed during the grant period, the estimated amount of displaced or energy saved in the building(s) must be based on the projected annual energy use over a 12 month period and those projections supplied as part of the application. Only the incremental costs associated with the installation of the energy generating system(s) and EEM(s) will be considered, not the cost of constructing the building.” [Emphasis added]

 

Based on the above, the design and engineering for the proposed energy systems, must therefore, have been completed prior to submitting an application and the design of the building must be such that the energy displaced by the proposed energy systems can be projected and included as part of the application. Furthermore, the Tribally-owned or controlled building(s) must be under construction or planned to be constructed during the grant period, which based on the information provided, seems uncertain. Per the information provided, if the energy systems to be proposed are not intended to be installed until after the completion of the building and the funding and timing for that construction uncertain, an application for said energy systems may be premature.

 

Also note that per Section III.B. (Cost Sharing) on page 34 of the FOA, “[c]osts associated with the construction of a building(s) or structure(s) such as carports (unless integral to the energy system(s) being proposed) will not be considered by DOE for reimbursement or as cost share; only the incremental costs associated with the installation of energy generating system(s), energy storage system(s), integrated energy system(s), or energy efficiency measures will be considered allocable to the proposed DOE funded project.

 

Additionally, be aware that per page 34 “[a]ll cost share must come from non-federal sources and be clearly identified in the application, unless otherwise allowed by law”. Therefore, of federal funding is anticipated as cost share for the proposed energy systems, you must confirmed those funds can be used as non-federal cost share and “provide a commitment letter from the federal agency as part of the application that specifically commits those funds and identifies the statutory authority that allows those funds to be used for the project being proposed. Additionally, if those funds are to be used as non-federal cost share, the commitment letter must also include the excerpt from the statutory authority that allows those funds to be used as non-federal cost share.”

 

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Question 23: I have a question under DE-FOA-0002317, regarding Topic 1.b., Multiple Energy Efficiency Measures. The description of the Topic Area says that multiple energy efficiency measures must be proposed for each tribally-owned building proposed. Is retrofitting several different types of light bulbs in the same building to more efficient LED bulbs considered multiple measures? Or is a lighting upgrade of all lighting in the building considered one measure?
Answer 23:

As stated in Section III.F. Questions Regarding Eligibility (page 39) of the Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA), “DOE will not make eligibility determinations for potential Applicants prior to the date on which applications to this FOA must be submitted. The decision of whether to submit an application in response to this FOA lies solely with the Applicant.”

                                                                                                                      

However, we offer the following:

 

As included in your question, Section I. B. (page 18) of the FOA states, “[u]nder Topic Area 1.b., multiple EEMs must be proposed for each Tribally-owned or controlled building proposed.” For purposes of this FOA, lighting retrofits would be considered a single energy efficiency measure and would not constitute ‘multiple’ energy efficiency measures, regardless of the number or different types of lights to be replaced.

Question 24: We are currently considering applying for Topic Area 2.a. (Community-Scale Energy Generating System(s)) under the Energy Technology Deployment on Tribal Lands funding opportunity. The proposed project would involve a wind project and a substation to allow for sale of excess wind energy not used by the tribe to the market. As the focus under Topic area 2.a. is on energy generation, we’re not sure whether this project would have a chance of being funded as the cost of the substation is substantially more than the cost of the wind energy generating system.
Answer 24:

As stated in Section III.F. Questions Regarding Eligibility (page 39) of the Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA), “DOE will not make eligibility determinations for potential Applicants prior to the date on which applications to this FOA must be submitted. The decision of whether to submit an application in response to this FOA lies solely with the Applicant.

 As a result, DOE cannot advise you. However, based on the information provided, we offer the following:

 Specific to Topic Area 2.a., page 22 of the Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA), states “[i]Interconnection infrastructure such as distribution substations, circuits, circuit breakers, switchgear, busbars, distribution lines, distribution transformers, capacitors, voltage regulators, meters, and utility poles, may be proposed under Topic Area 2.a., provided the proposed infrastructure is essential to the proposed project. The justification as to why that infrastructure is essential to the proposed project must be addressed as part of the Technical Volume. Note that in order for the proposed infrastructure to be eligible, not only must it be essential, but the land on which that infrastructure is proposed must either be (1) on Tribal Land; or (2) the necessary site access such as right-of-way agreement(s) must have been obtained prior to submitting the application. [Emphasis added]

Also, be aware that “Applications for commercial or utility-scale projects intended solely for revenue generation through the export of electricity off Tribal Lands for commercial sale are not of interest under this FOA. However, if a proposed energy generating system(s) meets the requirements under Topic Area 2.a. (Community-Scale Energy Generating System(s)), a portion of the electricity may be sold, provided that revenue from the sale of that electricity must benefit the eligible entity and the tribal community. If a portion of the electricity is proposed for sale, an explanation of how the revenue from the sale of that electricity will benefit the eligible entity and the tribal community is required as part of the Technical Volume.” [Emphasis added]

Provided it meets the requirements of the FOA, each proposed project will be evaluated (as a whole) based on criteria published in the FOA, none of which specify the percentage of the project or percentage of costs that must be dedicated to energy generation."

Question 25: We are interested in applying for the Energy Technology Deployment on Tribal Lands – 2020, DE-FOA-0002316. Our systems process waste plastic and convert into valuable liquid fuels that can be used directly in diesel engines, or cogenerated into electricity. Is there an updated timeline, or is it possible for us to apply in the near term?
Answer 25:

As stated on the cover page of the Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA), the submission deadline for applications under DE-FOA 0002317 is July 1, 2020.

 

Relative to your question regarding the possibility to apply in the near term, as stated in Section III.F., Questions Regarding Eligibility, of page 39 of the FOA, “DOE will not make eligibility determinations for potential Applicants prior to the date on which applications to this FOA must be submitted. The decision of whether to submit an application in response to this FOA lies solely with the Applicant.”

 

However, based on the information provided, we offer the following:

 

Section III.A. (page 31) of the FOA states, “eligibility for award under this FOA is restricted to: (1) an Indian Tribe; (2) Intertribal Organization; or (3) Tribal Energy Development Organization; and (4) on whose Tribal Lands the project(s) will be located.”

 

Also see eligible Topic Areas under Section I.A. and applications not of interest under this FOA under Section I.C.

 

Question 26: We are seeking funding to place solar on the roof of a cultural heritage center. I cannot quite figure out which topic area we are to apply under. The building isn’t yet built so the building isn’t electrified so could it go under Topic Area 4? On the other hand, it would appear to fit under Topic Area 1.a. as well. Could you clarify?
Answer 26:  

As stated in Section III.F. Questions Regarding Eligibility (page 39) of the Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA), “DOE will not make eligibility determinations for potential Applicants prior to the date on which applications to this FOA must be submitted. The decision of whether to submit an application in response to this FOA lies solely with the Applicant.”

 

However, based on the limited information provided, we offer the following: 

                                                

Under Topic Area 4, DOE is seeking applications for the deployment of energy infrastructure to electrify Tribal Buildings. Topic Area 4 (beginning on page 27) is intended for the deployment of energy infrastructure or integrated energy system(s) to provide electricity to a “substantial” number of unelectrified Tribal Buildings where for purposes of this FOA, “substantial” means of “ample or considerable amount”. Additionally, “unelectrifiedfor purposes of this FOA, means “Tribal Buildings not connected to (1) the traditional centralized electric power grid or (2) an integrated energy system(s) operating independent of the traditional centralized electric power grid.” Therefore, Topic Area 4 would only apply if a substantial number of unelectrified buildings are being proposed.

 

Whereas, under Topic Area 1.a., applications for energy generating system(s) for Tribal Building(s) are being solicited, where Tribal Building(s)” may include a single or multiple “Tribally-owned or controlled building(s)” located on Tribal Lands and may be for “either: (1) Existing “Tribally-owned or controlled building(s)”; or (2) “Tribally-owned or controlled building(s)” that are currently being constructed or planned to be constructed during the proposed grant period.” Therefore, if the building to be constructed will be grid-connected once completed, then Topic Area 1 might apply.  See Topic Area 1 beginning on page 15 of the FOA.   

 

Question 27: Good afternoon, I am reviewing the FOA for Energy Technology Deployment on Tribal Lands 2020 and would like to know if in addition to the helpful examples within the application packet, there is an example of a previous, successful application I may view?
Answer 27:

No.  Applications submitted to prior FOAs may contain those applicants’ confidential, business sensitive and/or proprietary information; in addition, they address different FOA requirements, which may be inapplicable to the current FOA.  The Office of Indian Energy will not, therefore, provide examples of previous successful applications for applicants’ use in preparing their own applications.

 

Question 28: I’m working with a couple of tribes in Alaska and we’d like to know if a commitment letter from an accredited lending organization will suffice as a 50% commitment match for this funding opportunity, due on July 1st. If not, what is acceptable to meet the 50% commitment?
Answer 28:

Per page 3 of the Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA), “all Applicants are required to submit an Applicant Tribal Council Resolution or Declaration of Commitment and Cost Sharing File, which must include a statement of commitment and cost sharing by the Applicant. For Indian Tribes, that statement of commitment and cost sharing must be in the form of an executed Tribal Council Resolution, unless an Indian Tribe does not have a Tribal Council.” And, for Alaska Native Regional Corporations or Village Corporations, Intertribal Organizations, and Tribal Energy Development Organizations, “the statement of commitment and cost sharing may be in the form of a declaration or resolution signed by an authorized representative able to commit the entity. In addition, letters of commitment and cost sharing are required from all other project participants (excluding Vendors), to be provided under the Participant Letters of Commitment and Cost Sharing File.”

 

Page 5 of the FOA further clarifies that “cost share must be available or accessible at the time of submission of the application,” and a “written assurance (e.g., commitment) must be provided at the time of application submission. The written assurance (e.g., commitment) is a binding guarantee that funds are available or, with respect to the use of equipment, contributed labor hours, or unrecovered indirect costs, accessible. Cost share commitments cannot be dependent on some future event, such as receiving a grant, obtaining a loan, or securing an investor. Furthermore, although the cost share requirement applies to the project as a whole (including work performed by members of the project team other than the Recipient) the Recipient is ultimately and legally responsible for the entire amount of cost share if an award is made. In addition, if an award is made, cost share will be verified, once invoiced. Documentation for all costs (evidence of expenditures) associated with the project will be required with each and every request for reimbursement from DOE for DOE’s portion of those costs.”

 

Therefore, the applicant must provide the written assurance (e.g., commitment) at the time of submission of the application that funds are available or if contributed accessible, in the form of a Tribal Council Resolution, declaration, or resolution, depending on the type of applicant; however, those funds are not verified, unless an award is made, and then only once invoiced. As such, besides the written assurance by the applicant that funds are available, or if contributed accessible, no additonal verification of funds or documentaiton of availability is required with the application. Note that that availability cannot be dependent on a future event such as obtaining a loan.  In addition, if the applicant intends to obtain a loan as part of its cost share, the loan cannot encumber any equipment or property acquired by the applicant as part of the DOE grant (i.e., no equipment or property acquired by the applicant as part of the DOE grant may be used as collateral for the loan).

Question 29: My office recently learned about this FOA and are in pursuit of projects that could fall under Topic Area 1, 2 or 4. However, in order to meet the application requirements, I am wondering if you could help me understand what a feasibility study and/or energy audit entails? Is there a website or contact from whom I can learn more about the details of what is needed to develop or contract for a feasibility study and/or energy audit?
Answer 29:

Per ‘Analyses, Feasibility Study and Energy Audit(s)’ on page 50 of the Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA), “[t]he Applicant should provide a description of the analyses, feasibility study and/or energy audit(s)/assessment(s) that are the foundation upon which the proposed project is based, including as a minimum:

 

For Topic Area 1 and Topic Area 2, the Applicant should describe the mandatory analysis that demonstrates that other options were considered and that the proposed project best meets the overall tribal objectives (Options Analysis), and describes the required energy audit(s) or industrial energy assessment(s) that identifies and quantifies energy reduction and savings (Topic Area 1.b. and Topic Area 1.c.) or the required feasibility study that demonstrates the availability and sustainability of the resource and the technical and economic viability of the proposed energy generating systems (Topic Area 1.a., Topic Area 1.c., and Topic Area 2.a.) or energy storage system (Topic Area 2.b.). Include any resource supply agreements under the Statement of Commitment and Cost Sharing File.” [Emphasis added]

 

“For Topic Area 4, the Applicant should describe the mandatory analysis that demonstrates that multiple options were considered and that the proposed project best meets the overall tribal objectives (Options Analysis). Also provide the required feasibility study that demonstrates the technical and economic viability of the proposed energy infrastructure or integrated energy system(s).” [Emphasis added]

 

Generally, energy audits are a tool for uncovering operational and equipment improvements that will save energy, reduce energy costs, and lead to higher performance. For more, see A Guide to Energy Audits.

A feasibility study is an assessment that demonstrates the availability and sustainability of the resource and the technical and economic viability of the proposed energy generating systems. Many examples of tribal energy project feasibility studies are posted on the DOE Office of Indian energy website. Examples of comprehensive feasibility studies are as follows: (1) Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Reservation's feasibility study; (2) Kaw Nation Wind Feasibility Report; and (3) Confederated Tribes of Umatilla Report.