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Applicant Guide: Smart Renewables and Electrification Pathways (SREPs) Program Capacity Building Stream

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Enabling the future of renewable energy in communities through capacity building

Program funding is available for projects until March 31, 2025Footnote 1. Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) expects to issue two request for proposals under the Capacity Building stream of SREPs. Find more information on project eligibility and funding under the SREPs technology streams.

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What do we mean by “Capacity Building”?

Canada has committed to transitioning to a net-zero economy by 2050. To accelerate this transition, NRCan is investing in community-driven solutions that can create a clean energy future that leaves no one behind. Capacity building creates the conditions for an organization or community to strengthen and/or develop its opportunity for future renewable energy and grid modernization projects.

These activities may include: training, skills development, strengthening institutional capabilities, knowledge sharing, research or other activities identified by organizations or communities that support increased access to renewable energy.

Examples of capacity building projects

Knowledge building and sharing: training and curriculum development, workshops, engagement activities, peer-to-peer networks, and knowledge tools.

Equity, diversity and inclusionFootnote 2: Mentoring, apprenticeships, skills development and training to create equal opportunities for underrepresented groups.

Studies: community energy planning, options analysis, research, feasibility, engineering, environmental, and resource assessments.

What types of projects are eligible for funding?

The Capacity Building funding stream of the program aims to invest in a community’s ability to develop future renewable energy and grid modernization projects in Canada. Projects must meet one or more of the following program objectives.

Program Objectives

  • Enhance equity, diversity and inclusion in the electricity and renewable energy sector in Canada;
  • Increase Indigenous Peoples’ leadership and participation in, ownership of, and benefits from renewable energy projects;
  • Generate economic and social benefits related to the electricity and renewable energy sector for underrepresented groups or communities;
  • Lead to more renewable energy projects, reduced greenhouse gas emissions and increased electricity system reliability.

Who is eligible?

Canadian legal entities (such as for-profit and not-for-profit), provincial, territorial, regional or municipal government organizations, and Indigenous communities or organizations.

How much funding is available for each project?

The program can fund up to 100% of eligible expenses, to a maximum of $5 million for each project. Applicants can combine other sources of Government of Canada funding (federal, provincial, territorial, and municipal), up to 100% of total project costs.

The program anticipates that the requested funding for a project will vary based on its size, scope, timeline and funding obtained from other partners. Program funding for projects will be available until the program end date of March 31, 2025.

How will proposals be assessed?

Proposals will be assessed by an expert review committee. Consideration may be given to regional distribution of projects, reach and impact of the proposed project and the potential to support future renewable energy projects or increased electricity system reliability. Additionally, the program will give preference to community-driven initiatives and Indigenous-led projects.

The following mandatory assessment criteria will be used to evaluate each proposal:

  • How well the project meets program objectives;
  • The ability of the organization to deliver the project, based on the proposed project team and its individual and collective experience and expertise;
  • Achievable timelines and milestones that are clearly articulated;
  • The likelihood for uptake and adoption of the results of the project in other organizations, communities or regions;
  • The project’s technical, social, economic, and environmental merits; and
  • Verifiable expenditure estimates for the project and its management.

What if my proposal is accepted?

  1. Proposal Assessment
  2. Project Approval
  3. Due Diligence
  4. Contribution Agreement

Following the assessment of submitted proposals, the program will seek internal project approval and then notify the organization of the start of project due diligence. The due diligence process will confirm the budget and the planned activities. Following the notification of the due diligence starting, the organization can begin to incur ineligible project expenses at their own risk and can expense that count toward their total project costs.

Once due diligence is approved, the project can begin to incur eligible expenses for reimbursement (not to exceed 20% of program funding) and the program will begin negotiating the contribution agreement (i.e., draft, review and approval steps).

Important Note: Until a contribution agreement is signed, there is no guarantee of a commitment of program funds. All expenses incurred prior to the signing of the contribution agreement are at the applicant’s own risk.

How will the project be funded?

The program will sign contribution agreements with selected applicants that will outline required documentation for payment. Payments will be issued based on evidence of costs incurred on a regular basis (i.e., quarterly).

A holdback amount, based on project and applicant risk, may be applied to program payments and released upon the approval of a final report for the project. Regular advance payments may be permitted, where requested by the applicant, and based on an assessment of their need, risk levels and cash flow requirements. Further details will be provided during the contribution agreement negotiation.

Important Note: Indigenous recipients are eligible for flexible funding arrangements.

How will I be reimbursed for expenses?

Expense claims can be submitted on a quarterly basis (every three months) for reimbursement. An expense claim template will be provided and includes a requirement for a short project update and an estimate for the expenses expected in the next quarter.

All expenses must be necessary for the project and verifiable. The full list of Eligible and Ineligible expenses is provided in Supplementary Information.

On a yearly basis, the organization must submit, with their fourth quarter expense claim, an annual report with project activities during the year and a revised budget.

A final report is due three months after the end of the project. Templates for reports will be provided by the program. More information about reporting requirements will be detailed in the contribution agreement. Reporting requirements and timing will also be detailed in the contribution agreement.

How do I submit a proposal?

  1. Request a proposal template by emailing the program mailbox: nrcan.sreps-erite.rncan@canada.ca with subject line “SREPs Capacity Building: Request for Proposal template”.
  2. Submit the completed proposal as a Word file and as a signed PDF (digitally signed or photograph of the signature page) to the program email above. Support letters from participating communities and organizations are strongly encouraged.
  3. An automatic reply will inform you that your submission has been received. If you do not receive an automatic message, please send a separate email to the program mailbox.
  4. The deadline for submitting a proposal under each round of requests for proposals will be indicated on the program website and in the proposal template. The program may follow-up if a submitted application has missing or incomplete information.
  5. All applicants will receive a funding decision by email. Please refer to Supplementary Information for service standards and notification timelines.

If support is needed while completing the proposal process, please contact us at: nrcan.sreps-erite.rncan@canada.ca.

Supplementary Information

Definitions

  • “Equity” means a condition or state of fair, inclusive and respectful treatment of all people based on their individual differences and circumstances.
  • “Inclusion” means the extent to which diverse members of a group, society or organization feel valued and respected.
  • “Diversity” means the acceptance and respect of various human dimensions including race, gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, socio-economic status, religious beliefs, age, physical abilities, political beliefs or other ideologies.
  • “Underrepresented Groups” means, including but not limited to, women, 2SLGBTQ+, Indigenous peoples, racialized peoples, youth and persons with disabilities.

Expenses

All expenses must be directly related to and necessary for the project, as well as verifiable (i.e. invoices, purchase orders, timesheets).

Eligible expenses may include:

  • Salaries and benefits for employees on the payroll of the organization, for actual time spent by employees on the project;
  • Professional, technical and contracting services;
  • Travel, including meals and accommodation, based on National Joint Council rates;
  • Other expenses including:
    • Supplies, materials and testing services;
    • Printing services and translation;
    • Data collection services, including processing, analysis and management;
    • Facility costs for training, seminars, conference room rentals, etc. (excluding hospitality);
    • Accreditation, licence fees and permits; and
    • Honoraria for Indigenous peoples and costs associated with an Indigenous ceremony.
  • Overhead expenses directly related to the project such as office operating expenses, telephone, internet, heat, electricity. Overhead expenses cannot exceed 15% of eligible expenses.
  • GST, PST, or HST, net of any tax rebate to which the organization is entitled.

Ineligible expenses, that will not be reimbursed by the program but may be considered part of the total project costs, include:

  • The reimbursable portion of Federal and Provincial taxes;
  • Legal costs related to notarization; and
  • In-kind costs.

In-kind costs are cash-equivalent contributions in the form of goods and services for which no cash is exchanged but that are essential to the project and would have to be purchased if they were not provided by the applicant organization or a project partner.

The program will not reimburse any portion of the following costs, nor will it consider them towards total project costs:

  • Land acquisition costs and associated real estate fees;
  • Legal costs;
  • Project proposal preparation costs;
  • Tax preparation costs;
  • Costs that cannot be deemed necessary for the implementation of the project;
  • Costs associated with the protection of intellectual property;
  • Salary benefits unrelated to the project (e.g., employee bonuses); and
  • Costs incurred before the organization has been notified that they can begin to incur eligible costs, or after the project completion date or March 31, 2025, whichever is earlier.

Service Standards

Activity Service Standard
Acknowledgement of receipt of a project proposal 5 business days
Program funding decision 105 business days
Program payment issued 30 days

Other Conditions

  • No Member of the House of Commons shall be admitted to any share or part of the contribution agreements, or any resulting benefit.
  • Applicants will comply with the Conflict of Interest Act and the Conflict of Interest and Post-Employment Code for Public Office Holders.
  • Funding may be cancelled or reduced in the event that departmental funding levels are reduced by Parliament. Contribution agreements will include provisions to this effect.
  • Organizations will be required to acknowledge the financial support of the Government of Canada in all public information produced as part of the project.
  • Contribution agreements will include requirements for joint communications activities, such as public information products, news releases, public announcements, and other joint events.

Disclaimer

Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) reserves the right to alter or cancel any request for proposals, funding amounts and/or deadlines associated with any program component, or to cancel any proposal process at its sole discretion. Any changes will be communicated to applicants via the program website.

Proposals may also be considered for support under other Government of Canada initiatives.

Any costs incurred for the submission of a project proposal are at the applicant’s own risk and cannot be considered as part of total project costs. In all cases, any funding under any submission, review and assessment process will be contingent upon the execution of a contribution agreement.

Until a written contribution agreement is signed by both parties, no commitment or obligation exists on the part of NRCan to make a financial contribution to any project, including any expenditure incurred or paid prior to the signing of such contribution agreement.

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