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Building Capacity with the Smart Renewables and Electrification Pathways Program

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Calls for Capacity Building and Indigenous Engagement Grant Proposals are currently closed. The program team is now evaluating proposals received during the most recent submission period ending January 31, 2024 and will notify applicants of funding decisions by May 2024.

The Smart Renewables and Electrification Pathways Program (SREPs) is otherwise fully allocated. While Budget 2023 included a recapitalization of SREPs, project eligibility, program timeline, and other details are not yet available. Information will be shared on the SREPs webpage and with program stakeholders through the program distribution list as it becomes available.

To receive updates by email, please send a request to sreps-erite@nrcan-rncan.gc.ca to be added to the SREPs distribution list.

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Supporting an equitable transition to a low -carbon future

The Smart Renewables and Electrification Pathways Program (SREPs) provides approximately $4.5 billion until 2035 to support eligible projects that can transform our electricity sector as we move toward a net-zero economy by 2050. Capacity Building funding and Indigenous Engagement Grants through SREPs help support an equitable transition to a cleaner electrical grid. Funded projects enable communities and organizations to acquire knowledge and tools to support decision-making and participation as SREPs advances the deployment of renewable energy, energy storage, and grid modernization across Canada.

Facilitating equitable participation through Capacity Building

Through the SREPs Capacity Building stream, Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) provides funding for projects that build knowledge and skills related to renewable energy, energy storage, and grid modernization technologies, and support inclusion, diversity, equity, and accessibility activities. These projects enable communities and individuals to participate in the Canadian electricity and energy sector’s transition to low carbon. SREPs aims to support projects across the country while encouraging the participation and leadership of First Nation, Inuit, and Métis communities.

Informed decision-making through Indigenous Engagement Grants

SREPs Indigenous Engagement Grants support Indigenous communities and organizations seeking access to resources and expertise to inform their decision-making regarding potential renewable energy and/or energy storage projects. For instance, grants may enable applicants to assess options for a community’s involvement in and/or support of, a potential project.

Timeline for Requests for Proposals

November 27, 2023: Request for Proposals intake begins
January 31, 2024: Deadline for Request for Proposals

February to April 2024: Proposal evaluation period
By May 2024: Applicants notified of funding decisions
May to August, 2024: Due diligence and Agreement negotiations

2023 Applicant Guide

 

Supplemental information

1) Information applicable to both RFPs

Connecting proposed activities to a future deployment project

  • Eligible activities under these two Requests for Proposals must contribute to the advancement of a specific grid-connected project, meaning that it will connect to and can generate power into the North American power grid. It is not a requirement that these grid-connected projects will backfeed energy to the grid but they must connect in parallel to the grid, whether directly or indirectly through the grid connected project site. Projects can be connected at transmission voltage or distribution voltage, however this does not need to be specified in your proposal.
  • Proposals seeking funding to advance projects in remote/off-grid communities or industrial sites are not eligible under this RFP process. If a community is currently not connected to the grid but the intent is for the project to connect to the grid in the future, the proposed activities would meet the grid-connected eligibility requirement.
  • Please see the SREPs webpage for examples of projects that SREPs is seeking to support under the Capacity Building Stream and with Indigenous Engagement Grants. If upon review of the SREPs webpage, project eligibility remains unclear, please email the SREPs mailbox with your specific project details.
  • While there is no preference for one technology over another, proposals will be scored on technical, economic, and environmental merit which may be impacted by the type of technology to be deployed.
  • There is no target implementation timeline for a future deployment project that will impact the eligibility of a submitted proposal. That said, one of the assessment criteria noted in the Applicant Guide is the “potential for and likelihood of the resulting future deployment of a renewable energy, energy storage, and/or grid modernization project”. The expected implementation timeline may be considered by evaluators in their assessment of this criterion.
  • It is understood by the Program that the future deployment/construction of a project is not guaranteed and that inherent risks are present when trying to advance any future project. As part of the risk assessment process for a successful proposal, the program may require additional project information during the due diligence phase to clarify risks to the successful implementation of proposed activities and the advancement of a related deployment project.
  • One of the assessment criteria noted in the Applicant Guide is the “potential for and likelihood of the resulting future deployment of a renewable energy, energy storage, and/or grid modernization project”. Applicants are encouraged to include any letters of support that could be considered in accordance with this criterion.
  • Please note that it is the responsibility of the applicant to investigate regulations in their province or territory of residence, to determine if their project meets the eligibility requirements of that province or territory of residence.

Submitting activities related to multiple projects or communities or with multiple partners

  • Applicants should not submit proposals for the same activities under both the Indigenous Engagement Grant RFP and the Capacity Building RFP. Applicants are advised to review the applicant guide and submit activities under the RFP that is most suitable based on eligible activities and funding availability. If it is not clear which RFP would be more suitable, we recommend submitting a proposal under the Capacity Building Stream.
  • If, during the proposal assessment phase, proposed activities are deemed better suited to the other RFP, that may be taken into consideration for funding decisions under the program.
  • Applicants may submit more than one proposal to either or both RFPs assuming the same activities are not being proposed under more than one proposal. Separate proposals should be submitted for activities tied to differing projects and/or differing communities.
  • If a project has multiple partners, please apply under a limited partnership or joint venture for this RFP, as we require a single applicant organization per proposal, and funding will flow to that applicant if the proposal is successful. If project partners prefer not to form a limited partnership or joint venture, they will need to choose one organization to be the applicant in the proposal, the lead for the project, and the only organization to directly receive funds from SREPs.

Defining the budget and NRCan’s contribution

  • When completing the proposal template for either RFP, applicants must provide a detailed budget for the proposed eligible activities, by cost category and fiscal year (e.g., April to March period). It is not necessary or recommended to provide budget information for the future deployment project to be enabled by the proposed capacity building or Indigenous engagement activities.
  • When filling out a proposal template, please provide your best estimate of the costs you expect to incur over the course of your project. Once a project is approved, budget adjustments can be made during the due diligence process. Once a grant or contribution agreement is signed, NRCan’s total funding amount for the project can only change with a formal amendment and there is no guarantee that the Program will be able to provide additional funds to the project.
  • NRCan funding under the Capacity Building stream cannot exceed 75% of the total project costs. NRCan funding under the Indigenous Engagement Grant stream cannot exceed 90% of the total eligible project costs. If eligible expenses and eligible activities align, it is likely, but not guaranteed, that NRCAN’s contribution will cover 75% and 90% of the total project costs under the Capacity Building and Indigenous Engagement Grant streams, respectively.
  • Once an agreement is signed, NRCan’s contribution amount will be listed in the agreement. If project costs increase, there is no guarantee that NRCan will provide additional funding on top of the approved amount.
  • The percentage of Indigenous ownership of the lead applicant organization will not impact the Capacity Building or Indigenous Engagement Grant reimbursement percentage of total project costs.
  • Funding agreements under the Capacity Building and Indigenous Engagement Grant stream are non-repayable. Due to the nature of the eligible activities funded under each RFP, approved projects will not be generating revenue as a direct result of these activities.

Submitting your proposal before the submission deadline

  • If a proposal is received prior to the January 31, 2024 deadline, but a required section of the proposal is missing, the SREPs team will notify the applicant of the missing section and they will have until the deadline to resubmit their proposal. There is no other benefit to submitting an early proposal, such as an accelerated evaluation timeline or decision. The proposal will be evaluated during the same evaluation period applicable to all proposals submitted under the corresponding RFP. The SREPs team will not be providing feedback to applicants on their completed proposal should they submit it in advance of the deadline.

2) Information applicable to the Capacity Building RFP only

Pre-development activities

  • “Pre-development activities” refer to the various planning, analysis, and assessment tasks necessary prior to project implementation, including but not limited to: project feasibility, engineering, interconnection, and environmental studies; securing regulatory approvals and permits; estimations of project costs, assessments of potential business cases, identification of financing options, and project risk assessments; community and stakeholder engagement and outreach; and, defining project roles, governance, and partnerships.

Indigenous-led project requirements

  • Pre-development activities must be linked to an Indigenous-led project. For the purpose of this Capacity Building RFP, Indigenous-led projects are those that demonstrate clear support and involvement of Indigenous community/ies and/or organization(s) throughout the different phases of the project, including planning, development, construction, and operations. Indigenous-led projects also demonstrate significant economic or other tangible benefits to Indigenous community/ies and/or organization(s). Project proposals should include records of support and demonstrate how Indigenous priorities and benefits are reflected in the project goals, outcomes, proposed activities, governance, and ownership structure.
  • Partnership guidance activities do not have to correspond with an Indigenous-led project, but non-Indigenous applicants proposing activities of this type must demonstrate that the Indigenous community/ies and/or organization(s) involved are supportive of the proposed activities by including a letter/record of support.

Eligible expenses

  • Please note that overhead expenses directly related to the project, such as office equipment, are not eligible expenses.
  • The purchase of small equipment may be an eligible expense for training sessions, webinars, and related events associated with workforce training and integration activities. Please note in the budget section of the proposal template what the equipment purchases entail, and why they are required for the project. These expenses will be evaluated by the SREPs team and deemed eligible/ineligible based on their need for the proposed project.

3) Applicable to the Indigenous Engagement Grants RFP only

Majority Indigenous ownership

  • Applicants must have equal to or greater than 51% Indigenous ownership to be eligible for the Indigenous Engagement Grant RFP. While documentation proving ownership is not required for proposal submission, this requirement will be confirmed during the due diligence process and documentation will have to be provided before a Grant Agreement can be signed. This could include, for example, a signed partnership agreement indicating 51% or more ownership from the Indigenous organization.
  • If a proposal is accepted, percentage of Indigenous ownership does not impact how an organization will receive funds.

Lead applicant selection, project partnership determination, and non-Indigenous organizations

  • An Indigenous community or organization must be the lead applicant on an Indigenous Engagement Grant proposal. If another organization is assisting with, or helping to deliver the proposed project, that organization can be listed in the proposal but should not be the lead applicant if they are not the Indigenous community or organization that is to benefit from the proposed project.
  • A non-Indigenous organization may provide services to an Indigenous community or organization which are eligible activities under the Indigenous Engagement Grant RFP. However, funding from SREPs will flow only, and directly to, the Indigenous community or organization. This also applies if a project partnership is still under consideration and the equity split has not been determined; funding will only flow to the Indigenous partner.

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