Frequently Asked Questions

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Question 1: I just took a look at the new DOE FOA re Energy Infrastructure, and saw that one of the purposes is to fund programs that "Deploy energy infrastructure and integrated energy system(s) to electrify Tribal Buildings (Topic Area 4).” The tribe has committed to pursuing development of commercial operations at a building located on tribal fee land. There is electricity accessible; however, it would need to be extended to that site. Would that project be eligible for funding under this program?
Answer 1:

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, for your purposes in making that decision, we offer the following:

 

Based on the limited information provided, it appears the building located on tribal fee land may qualify as an unelectrified Tribal Building (see definition of “unelectrified” below and in Appendix A of the FOA). However, unless the proposed project meets the requirement of electrifying “a “substantial” number of Tribal Buildings (no less than three (3) Tribal Buildings) which otherwise would be unelectrified”, it would not meet the requirements of Topic Area 4. Please review the requirements of Topic Area 4 to ensure the proposed project meets all the specified requirements.

 

““Unelectrified” for 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.”

 

Question 2: I have some questions regarding the Energy Infrastructure Deployment on Tribal Lands grant specific to energy projects that support gaming operations. Have any awards have ever been granted to energy projects that directly support gaming operations in the past? Would a proposal for this type of energy project be scored adversely for being tied to gaming?
Answer 2:

Gaming facilities or ‘tribal casinos’ are identified as “Tribally-owned or controlled building(s)” in the Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) and, as such, projects proposed for tribal casinos are not prohibited, provided they comply with the remaining requirements of the FOA.

 Specifically, per the FOA, “[f]or purposes of this FOA, “Tribal Building(s)” may include a single or multiple “Tribally-owned or controlled building(s)” located on Tribal Lands.”

 And, per Section I.B. of the FOA (beginning on page 14), ““Tribally-owned or controlled building(s),” for purposes of this FOA, 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.” [Emphasis added]

 Yes, the DOE Office of Indian Energy has provided funds for numerous awards for projects supporting tribal casinos. A summary of all projects funded are posted on the Office’s https://www.energy.gov/indianenergy/maps/tribal-energy-projects-database.

 Provided the facility meets the FOA requirements, the specific type of building (e.g., one “supporting gaming”) will not affect the scoring of an application, since that is not a review criteria. For more on the review criteria, see Section V.A., Technical Review Criteria, beginning on page 72 and Program Policy Factors (Section V.C., beginning on page 74).

Question 3: For Topic Area 1 - does the system for tribally owned buildings need to be connected to the grid in order to qualify under the grant criteria? These buildings are in a remote area with no access to the grid and are now utilizing diesel gas generators. From the Solicitation: For Topic Area 1 (Energy Generating System(s) and/or Energy Efficiency Measure(s) for Tribal Building(s)) include the specific Topic Area (Topic Area 1.a., 1.b., or 1.c.) under which the application is being submitted, the project location(s), number of building(s) affected, type of technology being proposed (energy generating system(s) for Topic Area 1.a., multiple energy efficiency measures for Topic Area 1.b., and both for Topic Area 1.c.), description of the building(s) to be affected by the proposed project, current energy use of the affected existing building(s) and projected energy use for any new buildings being constructed or to be constructed, and the projected reduction and/or displacement of energy (amount, cost, and percentage) as a result of the proposed project.
Answer 3:

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, for your purposes in making that decision, we offer the following:

 

As stated under Topic Area 1 on page 14 of the FOA document, “[n]ote that projects to be proposed under Topic Area 1.a. and Topic Area 1.c. are intended solely for energy generating system(s) that are grid-connected.” [Emphasis added] “Projects proposed under Topic Area 1.b. can be proposed for Tribal Buildings that are either grid-connected, or not grid-connected.” Therefore, as described, those buildings may meet the requirements of Topic Area 1.b. (Multiple Energy Efficiency Measures).

 

Based on the limited information provided, that the “buildings are in a remote area with no access to the grid and are now utilizing diesel gas generators,” it appears those buildings, as described, may also meet the definition of unelectrified, where ““[u]nelectrified” for 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.” [Emphasis added]

 

“Projects proposed under Topic Area 4 are intended for Tribal Buildings currently unelectrified. Grid-connected projects will only be accepted under Topic Area 1.a., Topic Area 1.c., and Topic Area 2.”

 

Specifically, under Topic Area 4 (Electrification of Tribal Buildings) beginning on page 27 of the FOA document, “DOE is seeking applications for the deployment of energy infrastructure to electrify Tribal Buildings. Topic Area 4 is intended for the deployment of energy infrastructure or integrated energy system(s) to provide electricity to a “substantial” number of Tribal Buildings (no less than three (3) Tribal Buildings) which otherwise would be unelectrified.”

Question 4: We are looking to apply to cover 5 Tribal buildings, the 5th building will supply any additional electricity to a nearby community. The first four buildings total about 60 kW and the 5th building would be about 160 kW. Would this still be appropriate to apply under Topic Area 1.a or would it be Topic Area 2.a?
Answer 4:

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, for your purposes in making that decision, we offer the following:

 

To be eligible for Topic Area 2.a. (Community-Scale Energy Generating System(s)), the “minimum system size (100 kW rated capacity or BTU equivalent) may be for either a single individual energy generating system or the aggregate of multiple energy generating systems.” And, “[f]or purposes of Topic Area 2, “community-scale” means serving a substantial number of the total buildings within a community (no less than three (3) buildings). For purposes of this FOA, “substantial” means of “ample or considerable amount”.” [Emphasis added] Therefore, unless that single system serves a substantial number of the total buldings within that community, it would not meet the requirements of Topic Area 2.  

 

Note that there are no minimum size requirements under Topic Area 1; however, to be eligible for Topic Area 1, all buildings, including those within the “nearby community” as described, must be “Tribally-owned or controlled building(s)” and located on Tribal Lands, and for Topic Area 1.a. (Energy Generating System(s)) “intended solely for energy generating system(s) that are grid-connected”.