Opportunity Knocks with DOE’s New Tribal Energy Project Grants

3 min

On March 11, 2019, the Department of Energy (DOE) issued a funding opportunity announcement (FOA) of $17 million in federal grants for energy infrastructure projects on tribal lands. This FOA builds on previous efforts by DOE’s Office of Indian Energy Policy and Programs to reduce energy costs and increase energy security on tribal lands. The goal of this FOA is to support projects for the installation of energy infrastructure. Specifically, through grants DOE is soliciting applications for the 50 percent cost-shared projects from Indian tribes to:

  1. Install energy generating system(s) and/or energy efficiency measure(s) for Tribal Building(s) (Topic Area 1); or
  2. Deploy community-scale energy generating system(s) on Tribal Lands (Topic Area 2); or,
  3. Install energy system(s) for autonomous operation (independent of the traditional centralized electric power grid) to power a single or multiple essential tribal facilities during emergency situations or for tribal community resilience (Topic Area 3).

Applications are due May 1, 2019 by 5:00 p.m. ET. While news of this funding opportunity is welcome, applicants for federal awards should be mindful of the various obligations and expectations of federal grant recipients.

The Office of Management and Budget’s (OMB) Uniform Administrative Requirements, Cost Principles, and Audit Requirements for Federal Awards (“Uniform Guidance”) contains a set of government-wide rules and requirements for the administration of federal grants (see 2 C.F.R. Part 200). Under these regulations, grant recipients are responsible for a host of monitoring, record-keeping, and other obligations that are unique to the federal grant space. For example, the Uniform Guidance imposes requirements such as:

  • Procurement Standards. As discussed in a previous newsletter, recipients intending to issue contracts using a federal award must do so using document procurement policies and procedures, engage in full and open competition where appropriate, and meet other requirements of 2 C.F.R. §§ 200.317 to 200.326.
  • Subrecipient Monitoring. Similarly, as discussed in a previous newsletter, the Uniform Guidance requires recipients to have in a place a plan to monitor subrecipient activities for compliance and to implement that plan. 2 C.F.R. § 200.331.
  • Document Retention. Recipients are required to retain financial records, supporting documents, statistical records, and all other non-federal entity records pertinent to the award for at least three years after the date of submission of the final expenditure report. 2 C.F.R. § 200.333.
  • Audit Requirements. Recipients who expend $750,000 or more in a year must procure or arrange for an audit in accordance with 2 C.F.R. Subpart F. The recipient is also responsible for follow-up and corrective action on all audit findings and may be subject to clawback of federal awards.

Venable has an experienced team of attorneys conversant in these laws and regulations who are happy to assist grantees interested in this FOA and in learning more about the subsequent obligations and requirements that come with these funds.