DOE Announces Availability of $225 million for Tribal Home Electrification Program
On November 17, 2023, the Department of Energy Office of State and Community Energy Programs (DOE OCEP) announced the final program requirements for the Tribal Home Electrification and Appliance Rebates Program (the “Tribal Home Electrification Program”), which will provide $225 million to Indian tribes for certain residential electrification projects. This Client Alert summarizes the Tribal Home Electrification Program requirements.
Key Aspects of the Program:
- Every tribe is eligible for funding and has received a minimum allocation of $150,000 for the Program.
- Applications are due May 31, 2025 (an optional Notice of Intent is due May 15, 2024)
- Tribes can apply individually or with a tribal consortium
- Tribes must develop an implementation plan
- Projects can fund up to $14,000 per low to moderate income household
- Free technical assistance is available
The key objective of the Tribal Home Electrification Program is to award grants to Tribes to develop and implement high- efficiency electric home rebate programs. The rebate programs should help reduce the upfront costs of efficient electric appliances and other accompanying home energy upgrades. Another stated objective of the Program is to attract, train, and retain a qualified workforce to provide the energy updates. DOE OCEP has issued two guidance documents regarding the Tribal Home Electrification Program: (1) Program Requirements and Application Instructions, and (2) Administrative and Legal Requirements Document. The DOE OCEP also published its final formula and funding allocations for the Program.
DOE approved and funded rebate programs may be utilized for energy upgrades in single-family and multi-family homes to lower energy bills and increase comfort. Eligible upgrades are not to exceed $14,000 per household and may include the following:
- Heating Ventilation, and Air Conditioning (HVAC)
- Appliances such as: water heater, stove, range, oven, clothes dryer
- Electric panel upgrade
- Insulation, air sealing, ventilation
- Electric wiring upgrades
Federally Recognized Tribes and Tribal entities, including Tribally Designated Housing Entities (TDHEs) and Tribal utilities, are eligible to receive funding under this Program. Also, Tribes may apply as consortium through a single application, with one Tribe designated as lead and responsible to meet all grant requirements on behalf of the consortium.
A Tribe or Tribal consortium may authorize a third-party agent to prepare and submit an application and manage the program funds on behalf of the Tribe or Tribal consortium. This could be a TDHE, Tribal utility, or regional Tribal organizations – so long as the entity is properly authorized to act on Tribe’s behalf via a Tribal Council Resolution or Head of Government Letter. The third party may draw funds or submit required reporting to DOE; however, only the Indian Tribe or the lead Tribe may be the awardee and will ultimately be responsible for satisfying all grant requirements.
DOE constructed its allocation formula to include two components: a minimum allocation for every Tribe ($150,000), and an additional amount allocated to every Tribe based on housing and energy upgrade needs as reflected in the formula data used by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (“HUD”) to allocate funding for the Indian Housing Block Grant (“IHBG”) program.1 It is DOE’s position that this allocation considers need, operation, and modernization costs to serve as a proxy of Tribal need for the home electrification and appliance rebates. DOE has issued Allocations for the Program, actual dollar amounts per Tribe, which can be found at: Tribal-Allocations-11.9-1.pdf (energy.gov).
Tribes may utilize 20% of their grant to cover administrative expenses, which should be particularly helpful to applicant Tribes with limited resources. Allowable costs include, for example: program planning and design, staff, development of program tools and systems, monitoring and audits.
Applications for the Program will be reviewed on a rolling basis and will remain open until May 31, 2025, while a Letter of Intent to apply is recommended by May 15, 2024. That letter should be submitted via email to DOE (IRAHomeRebates@hq.doe.gov) and must include a signed Head of Government Letter or Tribal Council Resolution. The full Program application must be submitted via the DOE’s grant management online interface, PAGE (Performance and Accountability for Grants Energy).
An applicant’s responses to required Program information must be submitted through: (1) an Application, and (2) an “Implementation Blueprint.” In certain instances, the Implementation Blueprint may be used to submit supplementary information or more fully developed information not available at the time of application.
In support of the application process, DOE is prepared to provide technical assistance to Tribes to submit applications and to design rebate programs, a sample application, and a centralized rebate processing and tracking system to support program implementation and reporting.
An exhaustive list of Rebate Program Requirements are provided Section 3 of the DOE Guidance document: Home Electrification and Appliance Rebates Program for Indian Tribes: Program Requirements and Application Instructions (energy.gov). Those requirements are detailed and lengthy and should be reviewed carefully prior to application and throughout the Program.
A later section provides a list of allowable “Qualified Electrification Projects” and the documentation that must be retained by the Tribe for such a project, for example, invoices, geo-located photos, and homeowner or contractor attestations. Other key sections relate to tracking of processing and delivering rebates to recipients, income eligibility verification, data collection evaluation, and a detailed table addressing program design application requirements.
DOE also provides guidance related to “Consumer Experience”, meaning methods and requirements for ensuring end-user satisfaction and awareness, to include, for example: home assessments and quality assurance.
DOE provides detailed Application Instructions in Section 5 of the Guidance document, including a list of application documentation materials, applicable federal standard forms, and budgeting requirements.
Finally, appendices to the Guidance document include: a Data Collecting and Reporting Guide, a Sample Letter of Intent to Apply, and Program Specific Recommended Best Practices,
Key administrative and legal guidance information are provided in the DOE Administrative and Legal Requirements Document (ALRD), which is available at: Home Electrification and Appliance Rebates Program for Indian Tribes: Administrative and Legal Requirements Document (energy.gov). The ALRD describes registration/submission requirements, specifically as related to obtaining a Unique Identity Identifier (UEI) from the System for Award Management website (SAM.gov).
Tribal implementation of the Program must be in accordance with the Federal cost principles reference in 2 CFR 200. Tribes will need to comply with DOE and other federal regulations and procedures governing financial awards. For purposes of monitoring and reporting DOE will identify such requirements in the Federal Assistance Reporting Checklist, which will be attached to the award agreement.
- Mary Hubbard, DOE Monitoring and Delivery Supervisor – firstname.lastname@example.org
- IRAHomeRebates@hq.doe.gov – for issues with PAGE system
- May 15, 2024 – recommended submission of Letter of Intent to Apply via email to IRAHomeRebates@hq.doe.gov.
- May 31, 2025 – deadline for Application submission through PAGE online system.
If you have any questions regarding the final program requirements announced by the DOE OCEP, please contact your local Quarles attorney or:
- Pilar Thomas: (520) 770-8744 / email@example.com
- Jason M. Croxton: (602) 229-5218 / Jason.firstname.lastname@example.org
1 There are special considerations and allocations established for Alaskan Tribes.