Palmetto Clean Energy - Setting the PaCE for South Carolina's Future

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Introduction

The purpose of this document is to notify educators, administrators, and facility managers at schools, school districts, and education-focused non-profits (such as museums, science and nature centers, zoos, and aquaria) in South Carolina that Palmetto Clean Energy (“PaCE”) seeks to disburse grants for the lesser of 50% or $50,000 of the cost of new solar photovoltaic (“solar PV”) installations. In aggregate, the PaCE Solar Grant Program seeks to disburse up to $250,000 in funding to institutions in 2014. This document describes the program, eligibility criteria, and application process and timing.

About PaCE

In 2007 Palmetto Clean Energy, Inc. was formed for the purpose of encouraging the development of renewable energy technologies and the production of renewable energy in South Carolina. Through these efforts, PaCE serves to better the environment and satisfy the growing need for power through renewable energy generation. More specifically, PaCE is a South Carolina non-profit organization which offers customers of South Carolina's investor-owned utilities (Duke Energy Carolinas, LLC , Duke Energy Progress, Inc., and South Carolina Electric & Gas Company) the opportunity to buy tax-deductible renewable energy for as little as $4 per month. To further its original purposes and to promote energy education in South Carolina, PaCE is offering this solar grant program. The program is aimed at enabling more schools and K-12 education-focused non-profits that otherwise would not be able to install solar PV due to prohibitive cost and inability to utilize subsidies to install on-site solar. For more information, please see www.palmettocleanenergy.org

Eligible Applicants

Public entities whose purpose is recreation or education, and non-profit entities (exempt from Federal income tax under section 501(c)3 of the Internal Revenue Code) with the opportunity to demonstrate the effectiveness of solar technology to a wide audience are eligible to apply for the Solar Grant Program. Eligible entities include public and private K-12 schools, public and private educational or recreational entities such as state parks, museums, science and nature centers, zoos, aquaria, and similar institutions. Institutions must be located in South Carolina and must be served by one of South Carolina's investor-owned utilities (Duke Energy Carolinas, LLC, Duke Energy Progress, Inc., and South Carolina Electric & Gas Company). The applicant must own the property on which the project will be installed.

Available Funding

In total, the PaCE Solar Grant Program seeks to disburse up to $250,000 in funding to institutions in 2014. Selected applicants will receive the lesser of 50% or $50,000 of the cost of new solar photovoltaic (“solar PV”) installations.

Cost-sharing by the applicant is required. The applicant must provide at least 50% of the project cost (or the remainder of the project cost if 50% of the project cost exceeds $50,000). Applicant must demonstrate that matching funds are available, in-hand, or otherwise committed before PaCE will release any funds to a qualifying applicant selected for the program. Matching funds may be in the form of in-kind goods or services, such as installation or project design.

Grant funds may only be applied to the cost of installing new, grid-connected PV systems located on property owned by the applicant.

Application Process

Applications should be made using the template Application for Solar Grant for Educations Institutions below (Word or PDF file).

Application for Solar Grant for Educational Institutions (.pdf).

Application for Solar Grant for Educational Institutions (.doc).

A complete Project Application consists of two (2) documents: Application Form and Technical Analysis of the proposed solar project. Completion of the application will require the applicant to contact a solar installer for a preliminary assessment of the facility’s suitability and expected costs of the project. The installer will complete the Technical Analysis.

Key Dates

June 16, 2014, 5PM EST - Applications must be received by PaCE to be considered for the Program. Applications should be e-mailed to info@palmettocleanenergy.org and applicants should include in the subject heading of the email “Solar Grant Program Application – [insert applicant name].”

June 17 - July 18, 2014 - PaCE reviews applications

July 23, 2014 - Notification of award. The award notice will state the amount of funds to be awarded, the required match, and the approved uses for the funds.

August 22, 2014 - Deadline by which applicant must accept or decline grant

September 22, 2014 - Deadline by which applicant must demonstrate that matching funds are available and in-hand. If the applicant has not been able to acquire the necessary matching funds, the grant will not be awarded. The applicant can apply again in the future if a subsequent phase of the program is offered.

Allowable Costs

Funds may only be used for the installation of new, grid-connected solar photovoltaic systems using commercially available equipment and located on property owned by the applicant.

Funds will be awarded for reimbursement of project costs up to the amount of the award. Costs incurred prior to the award will not be reimbursed unless they are included in the project application and explicitly approved in advance as a part of the approved application. Costs must be reasonable and necessary to develop and implement the project. Cost items may include:

  1. 1. Direct labor costs for installation of solar equipment
  2. 2. Equipment and materials necessary for the solar installation
  3. 3. Engineering assessments directly related to the installation of the project

Prohibited Uses of Funds

Funds may not be used for research, development or demonstration of energy efficiency or renewable energy techniques and technologies not commercially available. Funds may not be used for infrastructure improvements necessary to support solar installations. Funds may not be used for roof repair, structural work to the site, or removal of trees and other obstructions.

Reporting Requirements

Quarterly Status Reports

During the development of the solar PV project, recipients of funds must provide PaCE with quarterly status reports to be submitted to PaCE by October 1, 2014, January 1, 2015, April 1, 2015 and July 1, 2015 and will include: amounts obligated for contracts and other purchases, amounts expended, percent of project completed, and amount of funding leveraged from other sources.

Post-Installation Evaluation

One year after completion of the project, recipients of funds must provide PaCE with a Post-Installation Evaluation, including information such as:

1. 1. Output of the solar PV facility, by month, against total energy consumed by the school or institution, by month, since the solar PV facility was energized

2. Summary of technical “lessons learned” during the installation process as well as

3. Summary of the educational benefits of the on-site solar PV facility, such as a description of the ways in which the solar PV facility has become part of the learning/teaching mission of the institution, including examples of any curricula developed as a result.

4. Summary of the environmental benefits of the project, in terms of greenhouse gas emissions avoided, metric tons of CO2 displaced, number of cars off the road, etc.

Grantee Requirements

Project Permit

The recipient shall be responsible for obtaining any necessary licenses and/or permits and for complying with all applicable federal, state and municipal laws, codes and regulations in connection with the execution of the work.

Recipients will also be responsible for executing an Interconnection Agreement with the appropriate electric utility. All power output from the solar installation will be purchased by the utility currently serving the education institution and placed on the electrical grid. The education institution will be responsible for working with the utility to determine that information.

For more information on interconnection and utilities’ purchase of electricity from the solar PV installation, please refer to the following sites:

Title to RECs1

In exchange for payment of the Renewable Energy Credits (RECs), the owner of the project shall transfer title to the RECs associated with the generation of solar PV facility to PaCE.

Procurement

The recipient shall procure goods and services according to its established procurement policy, provided that its procurement policy conforms to South Carolina State law.

Maintenance of Records and Audit Requirements

Recipient must maintain records pertinent to all grants, agreements and accounts in accordance with Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP).

Application Instructions

The Application form is available below as a Word or PDF file:

Application for Solar Grant for Educational Institutions (.pdf).

Application for Solar Grant for Educational Institutions (.doc).

A complete Project Application consists of two (2) documents: Application Form and Technical Analysis of the proposed solar project.

A Technical Analysis must accompany this application and must be completed by a qualified solar installer. The Analysis must include:

1. A description of any energy audits of the educational facility, the date on which the audit was completed, as well as a brief description of any actions taken as a result of the audit.

2. A description of facility characteristics and energy data, including the energy use per square foot for FY 2013.

3. Technical characteristics of the equipment to be installed, including:

a. Panel manufacturer, panel model, panel power rating (in Watts DC), number of panels to be installed, panel warranty, panel orientation (E, S, W, etc.), and tilt angle in degrees.

b. Inverter manufacturer, inverted model, number of inverters, inverter warranty, etc.

c. Type of monitoring equipment

4. Attestation that equipment is new, UL-listed, and compliant with all applicable performance and safety standards.

5. A description of the location of the project, including whether it is roof or ground mounted, and if roof-mounted, the age of the roof/date of last replacement.

6. A detailed estimate of the cost of design, acquisition and installation with discussion of pertinent assumptions, as necessary.

7. An estimate of current annual energy consumption of the institution and estimated annual energy output of the solar PV.

8. Estimated “simple payback” of installation, assuming payback is defined as how long (years) it will it take to pay for the income from the sales of solar energy from this facility to equal the cost of installing the solar array.

9. Description of any fire protection, detection, or notification equipment to be installed, particularly if roof-mounted.

10. Description of manufacturer’s guarantee as well as the manufacturer’s stated expected useful life of the equipment in years (i.e., minimum 20-year warranty on panels, 5-year warranty on inverter, etc.).

11. For rooftop installations, if the expected useful life of the roof is less than the expected useful life of the equipment, the estimated cost of solar facility removal during re-roofing.

12. Certification that the proposed location is structurally sound and appropriate for the proposed installation.

13. A proposed implementation schedule.

14. Description of the installer’s experience, qualifications, and certifications.

Post-Installation Evaluation Plan

Applicants will be evaluated on the strength of their plan for evaluating the project, including, if relevant, how well the project achieved its educational goals. At a minimum, one year after completion of the project, recipients of funds must provide PaCE with a Post-Installation Evaluation, including the following:

1. Output of the solar PV facility, by month, against total energy consumed by the school or institution, by month, since the solar PV facility was energized.

2. Summary of technical “lessons learned” during the installation process.

3. Summary of the educational benefits of the on-site solar PV facility, such as a description of the ways in which the solar PV facility has become part of the learning/teaching mission of the institution, including examples of any curricula developed as a result.

4. Summary of the environmental benefits of the project, in terms of greenhouse gas emissions avoided, metric tons of CO2 displaced, number of cars off the road, etc.

Additional factors should be included in the plan as relevant. Strength of the Post-Installation Evaluation Plan will be one of the criteria on which this application will be scored.

Mailing address and inquiries

The Solar Grant Application Form, Technical Analysis, Quarterly Reports, and Post-installation Evaluation should be e-mailed to info@palmettocleanenergy.org. Applicants should include in the subject heading of the email “Solar Program – [insert school name].”

Review and Award Process

PaCE will conduct a merit review of each project to determine whether the project is feasible and cost-effective. The overall project must have a simple payback period no longer than the expected life of the equipment. At the same time, personnel from the relevant utility will evaluate the project to ensure suitability for interconnection to the grid.

The merit review will evaluate applicants according to the following criteria:

A. How the applicant proposes to incorporate student and/or community outreach and education into installation and operation and how many individuals will have the opportunity to learn from the installation.

B. Financial strength, including reasonableness of cost proposal and payback.

C. Technical strength

D. Post-installation evaluation plan

E. Other funds leveraged

In addition, the review panel will strive to achieve geographic balance among funded projects, and will also seek diversity of applicants and installation types, if possible.

PaCE reserves the right to negotiate with applicants to adjust a project in order to maximize the distribution of funds or the information gained by funding the project. In addition, PaCE reserves the right to award less than the designated $250,000 or to choose not to fund any applications submitted.

Successful applicants will receive an award notice stating the amount of funds to be awarded, the required match and the approved uses for the funds. Applicants will have 30 days to accept the grant and an additional 30 days (60 days total) to confirm the availability of all matching funds. If, at the end of this period, the applicant has not been able to acquire the necessary matching funds, the grant will not be awarded. The applicant can apply again in the future if a next-phase of the program is offered

Payment Procedures

Payment will be on a reimbursement basis, upon receipt of invoices. Ten percent of the final grant amount will be withheld until the utility interconnection agreement has been signed and the project has been audited by a PaCE representative. Successful applicants will be required to document a proportional amount of match with each request for payment. PaCE reserves the right to request copies of all records related to the installation for purposes of confirming costs and ensuring quality control.

Questions

Inquiries about the process must be in writing and, preferably by e-mail, to: info@palmettocleanenergy.org. Please note that all questions and answers will be posted on the PaCE website so that all applicants have access to the same information. Any updates to the Guidelines for Application or Application itself will be posted to the same location.

1A Renewable Energy Certificate (“REC”), also known as a Renewable Energy Credit, is created for each megawatt-hour of renewable electricity generated. (1 REC = 1 MWh = 1000 kilowatt-hours.) RECs are transferable; they represent the legal rights to the environmental benefits associated with the generation of renewable energy.