FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

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ELIGIBILITY


1. What types of businesses are eligible?

The Energy Savings for Business Program is open to a wide range of businesses. Examples include but are not limited to:

• Manufacturing operations
• Food processing
• Agricultural sector
• Warehouse / wholesale trade
• Retail, restaurants, and food services
• Building management companies
• Accommodation sector
• Energy (oil and gas)
• Forestry/paper
• Waste management
• Non-profit organizations – see non-profit FAQ
• Governments, Public Agencies, businesses wholly owned by public authorities, Boards and Commissions, including publicly funded post-secondary institutions, public schools, hospitals, and private residences are ineligible. To view the full details on Participant and facility eligibility, please refer to the Participant Terms and Conditions.

 

2. Are new builds eligible or can I apply for support retrofitting/upgrading new builds in progress?

Certain measures are eligible for new builds in the Energy Savings for Business Program, including:

  • Geothermal
  • CHP
  • VFDs
  • Premium efficient motors
  • All lighting controls measures
  • All agricultural lighting measures
  • All food service equipment (with the exception of demand control kitchen ventilation)
  • VFD-Integrated compressors
  • Zero loss drains
  • Nozzles
  • Cycling or thermal mass refrigerated dryer
  • Desiccant dryer dewpoint demand controls
  • Low pressure drop filter
  • Solar pre-heating of air intake
  • Waste energy recovery organic ranking cycle

All other measure types must have a non-residential electricity account in operation for one year or more.

3. What if I started my program after the announcement but before the program launched and/or before the measures were available?

Any expenses incurred prior to November 2, 2020 will not be eligible in the Program.

Projects that started following the November 2, 2020 Energy Savings for Business announcement are eligible to apply. Any eligible expenses incurred between November 2, 2020 and February 1, 2021 must be submitted to ERA via the Program Portal within one month of when the applicable measures became available (e.g., by June 25 for the measures that became available on May 25, 2021). All projects will be subject to the full terms, conditions, eligibility, and incentive levels as published at the time of the application submission and Participant Acceptance.

All projects starting after measures became available (e.g., May 25) must submit an application for pre-approval prior to incurring expenses for those measures.

4. I am a non-profit or charity, am I eligible?

Non-profits are eligible to participate in the program, provided no more than 50% of their funding is received from a public body. Non-profits, charities, and other similar organizations with strong project plans and a demonstrated need for funding can request an exception to the 50% funding criteria and should contact ERA with their project proposal prior to applying. All requests will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis.

5. Does public COVID relief funding count towards the 50 percent or more of my annual revenue from a Public Authority?

No. We understand that businesses may have required extra funding during the pandemic due to extenuating circumstances. We will exempt any COVID relief funding from the requirement to have no more than 50% revenue come from a Public Authority.

STARTING A PROJECT


1. Who can I use as an Eligible Contractor?

Participants can work with the contractor(s)/manufacturer(s)/distributor(s) of their choice to purchase and install eligible measures. However, you must designate at least one contractor for each project application that is an Eligible Contractor.

If the contractor is already registered, you will be able to select them from a dropdown list in the Program Portal. If the contractor has not already done so, please have them register to be an Eligible Contractor in the Energy Savings for Business Program. The process is quick and easy.

We will not be posting a list of Eligible Contractors on our website. Please find a contractor that is the right fit for your organization.

2. How do I know which products to buy?

The Energy Savings for Business Program supports a wide range of emissions reduction technologies. While the Program includes minimum requirements for each technology, we do not include limitations on or recommendations for specific products or brands.

The Program is intended to be brand neutral; however, products must meet efficiency standards and there may be additional technical requirements to ensure safety and high-quality products for Albertans. As such, not necessarily every make, model, or brand will be accepted.

We recommend speaking with a local contractor to understand what range of products will be best suited for your specific project and circumstances, that will meet the minimum technology requirements. It is not required, but we also recommend getting at least three quotes from different contractors.

Emissions Reduction Alberta will be working with contractors and distributors throughout the Province to inform them of the eligible product categories for the Program. To see the full list of supported technologies, please refer to our Eligible Measures List.

3. Do I need a contractor? What if my business can complete a project using our internal expertise?

An external contractor is not required. All projects must have an Eligible Contractor assigned in the Program Portal; however, Participants wishing to complete the project internally can register a second account as an Eligible Contractor and assign themselves to the project. With this approach, the following also applies:

• The Contractor Code of Conduct and all associated requirements to be an Eligible Contractor must be accepted and adhered to.
• Costs associated with labour completed internally will not be considered as eligible expenses.
• Any eligible costs not supported by third party invoices or proof of payment will be set equal to the fair market value, as determined by ERA.

4. What is Energy Star Qualified? When is it required?

ENERGY STAR© is a third-party organization that sets a globally respected standard for performance and quality of efficient technology including lighting, furnaces, boilers, and water heaters. To check a product’s qualification, please search the product model number on the Energy Star website.

Specific measure requirements, including Energy Star Qualified, will be listed in the Measures List.

5. What does ESB consider as a project?

For the ESB program, a project is an application to install one or more Eligible Measures and is limited to $250,000.

To streamline your review, we recommend splitting up your work into different contractors and technologies and submit individual applications. This allows the applications to proceed without being held up by un-related technologies (e.g. waiting for a motors and drives project incentive while you wait for the CHP project to be completed).

A facility can have multiple projects and applications, but each project is capped at $250,000 and the parent company cap of $500,000 still applies. A single unit of equipment (1 unit of a measure) may not be broken down into multiple projects, but multiple projects may be submitted for the same measure type if there are multiple individual systems.

APPLICATION PROCESS


1. Do I need pre-approval before I start a project?

Submitting an application for project pre-approval is required to be eligible for funding, as funding will be awarded on first-come, first-served basis. ERA strongly recommends submitting an application and receiving pre-approval prior to starting the work to ensure that the project expenses are eligible and all requirements are met.

Additionally, projects starting after February 1, 2021 must submit an application before incurring any eligible expenses. Expenses incurred before the application submission will not be eligible and will not be included in the incentive calculations. There is a short-term exception for projects that started following the November 2, 2020 announcement. Please see the answer to the ‘I started my project before this program opened, can I apply?’ for more details.

If Participants wish to begin their project prior to pre-approval of the project, they accept full risk of potentially being ineligible or not being pre-approved for funding. No exceptions will be made for projects that fail to meet the published terms and conditions of the Program.

2. Who within my business should submit the application? How does this work if we have multiple facilities?

Anyone from the participating business can apply for a project, providing they have the authority to accept the Participant Terms and Conditions. The person who registers the application will also serve as the main point of contact throughout the Program, so we recommend selecting the best person to serve that role as the applicant.

Businesses with multiple facilities and/or multiple projects will have the choice between having one person submit all the applications, or having someone from each site apply, providing they meet the requirements above.

3. Do we need to submit permits as part of the application process?

ERA is not directly involved in any permitting processes as permitting requirements and verifications are regulated by bodies outside of the Program. Please contact your local Authority Having Jurisdiction (AHJ), which could be your municipality or M.D., or discuss permitting requirements with your Eligible Contractor. Your AHJ or Eligible Contractor will be able to provide guidance on permitting requirements, including but not limited to required permits, licenses, approvals and authorizations that are required by law (including any development, electrical or building permits).

By participating in the Energy Savings for Business Program, our expectations are that Participants and Eligible Contractors will meet all requirements outside of the Program. Participants or Eligible Contractors may be required to submit a copy of a permit as part of a post-project review to support our verification that the project was completed as described.

4. Who submits the application?

All applications must be started by the Participant. The Participant is then able to assign an Eligible Contractor, who may be internal or external to the organization. The Eligible Contractor can input project details and upload project documents on the Participant’s behalf, once the Participant gives them access to the application by assigning them.

The Participant is then responsible for reviewing the details prior to submitting the application for pre-approval, along with some additional steps further in the process including acknowledging agreement with the Program Terms and Conditions.

5. Can I change my project between the pre-project approval and post-project application?

If your project changes between pre-approval and the post-project submission, you will need to update your application details in the Program Portal and ensure that the correct incentive is reserved for your project. Once you are past the pre-project approval step, you will not be able to make substantial changes unless you submit a Change Request. Without submitting a Change Request, you will not be able to add new measures categories; you will only be able to remove them. You can change the quantities of the specific measures you have indicated that you are installing; however, the incentive amount is capped at 110 per cent of what was pre-approved.

Changes that are permissible to the project during installation phases are:

• An increase in the quantity of Eligible Measures listed in the Application Summary, where the Pre-Project Estimated Incentive increases by 10 per cent or less.
• A decrease in the quantity of Eligible Measures to be installed.
• A change to the model number of an Eligible Measure provided that the new model number meets the same Specifications for that Eligible Measure.
• A change to the Eligible Contractor.

The Participant may request any other change to the Participant Acceptance not listed above by submitting a written request to ERA 60 days prior to the Project deadline. ERA will consider each Change Request on a case-by-case basis and make a decision about the Change Request at ERA’s sole discretion.

6. How do I check my application status?

Application status can be checked online at any time through the Program Portal. Participants, or/and contractors, as assigned by Participants, will receive email updates at all major project milestones. Contractors will receive email updates at specific major milestones such as assignment to an application and confirmation of application submission.

7. How long is a pre-approval valid?

As part of the pre-approval process, each project will receive an Application Summary that clearly states a submission deadline. Projects that fail to meet that deadline risk losing their funding.

Pre-approval reservations are generally valid for up to six months from the date that the approval is granted. Large CHP, solar PV, and geothermal projects may request timeline extensions at pre-approval and will be reviewed and approved on a case-by-case basis. The longest funding reservation permitted within the program is 12 months. Any approved deadline extensions will also be clearly shown on the application approval form.

8. Can I get an extension for my project?

Yes. If you need longer than the six months provided as a default deadline, you will need to submit an extension request. We will consider short extension requests for all active projects, if additional time is required to complete a project. Longer extension requests will be considered for large CHP, solar PV, and geothermal projects that may need more time to complete construction. For larger projects with longer completion times, you may also indicate that you need more time as part of your pre-approval application. All requests will be reviewed and approved on a case-by-case basis and participants may be required to submit additional information as part of the extension request. Requests for extensions are submitted through the application portal.

Please note that all projects have a deadline of six months to submit final documentation by default. The longest funding reservation permitted within the program is 12 months for applicable project types, with a completion date no later than Oct. 1, 2022. The Post-project Application and all required documentation must be submitted by that date. Any approved deadline extensions will also be clearly shown on the application approval form.

To learn more, consider watching our webinar on Post-project Applications and Change Requests.

APPLICATION PROCESS – POST PROJECT


1. Who must submit the post-project incentive application?

After the project is completed, the Participant must start the post-project application. At that point, they can assign the Contractor again who can help them complete the post-project application. Similar to the pre-approval application, the Participant will be required to review and submit the post-project application when it is ready.

2. What is a site inspection and when will it occur?

Site inspections are performed to ensure that equipment or services submitted for incentives have been installed as expected. Inspections will include checks to verify that the product types and quantities installed exactly match the equipment identified in the application. Site visits will be performed through an on-site or virtual inspection, respecting safe operating practices. Participants should have access to all areas of the facility where measures have been installed.

Site inspections will be scheduled after equipment is installed. Site inspections are required for all applications with incentives equal to or greater than $100,000 and will also be performed for randomly sampled applications of less than $100,000. Emissions Reduction Alberta reserves the right to inspect any project prior to issuing an incentive.

INCENTIVES


1. Are studies or audits eligible expenses? Do incentives cover the measure and installation costs?

Yes, studies and audits are eligible expenses as long as they are submitted as part of the installation of an eligible measure. Incentive levels are calculated as the lesser of the following:

1. Measure incentive value or rate; or
2. The maximum percentage of eligible expenses (stated in the Measure List).

This includes the costs of any studies or audits performed that contributed to projects. By calculating incentives this way, it ensures you receive the highest incentive possible.

2. How do the incentive calculations work?

Each measure has a fixed incentive value or rate stated on the measure list along with the basis (e.g., per unit) that will be multiplied by the number of units installed (or other applicable base). The fixed amount represents the maximum possible incentive value for that measure. The actual incentive value available to Participants is calculated as the lesser of this fixed value or the following incentive caps:

• 25 per cent of all eligible expenses for lighting systems, CHP, and solar PV projects or 50 per cent for all other projects. Eligible expenses include equipment, materials, labour and design
• $250,000 for a project
• $500,000 for a Participant

Estimated incentive levels are calculated at pre-approval and are clearly indicated on the application approval form. However, final incentives are calculated and adjusted once the project is complete and actual eligible costs have been submitted.

The Program Guidebook has detailed examples; here are a couple of sample calculations for your reference.

Example #1 Julie Smith from ABC Industrial is planning to install two 20 HP VFD-integrated compressors. She gets a quote of $20,000 for the project including her equipment, labour and design costs. The Measures List provides an incentive of $3,000 per 20 HP VFD-integrated compressor. The Measures List also indicates a Maximum percent of Eligible Expense as 50 per cent.

Therefore, she is expecting to receive $6,000 and the expense cap at $10,000 (50 per cent of $20,000) does not impact the calculation. The $6,000 incentive is reserved from the Program budget.

Julie Smith pays $16,000 total for both compressors to be installed, saving $4,000 from her initial quote.

As such, the eligible expense cap still does not come into effect (50 per cent of $16,000 is $8,000), and her incentive remains at $6,000. Her net cost is $10,000; a great deal.

Example #2 – Julie Smith from ABC Industrial is planning to install two 20 HP VFD-integrated compressors. The Measures List provides an incentive of $3,000 per 20 HP VFD-integrated compressor so she is expecting to receive $6,000. This incentive is reserved from the Program budget.

Julie Smith gets an amazing discount from her compressed air contact for both the compressors and installation. She only has to pay $10,000 total for both compressors to be installed.

As such, the eligible expense cap comes into effect (50% of $10,000 is less than $6,000), and her incentive is capped at $5,000. Her net cost is $5,000, a better deal even with the incentive cap applied.

3. How long does it take to get my incentive?

From the time ERA receives the necessary information required to process the post-project application, it takes approximately four- to six-weeks to process the application and pay the incentives. If any of the required information was omitted or incorrect, or the application is incomplete, processing may be delayed.

4. Can we apply for other funding programs at the same time as ESB?

Yes, depending on the source of other funding programs. Projects participating in Energy Savings for Business will not be able to apply for funding if they are also receiving, expecting to receive, or have received funding from:

• Alberta’s Technology Innovation and Emissions Reduction (TIER) fund
• The repealed Alberta Climate Leadership Act, or
• the Pan-Canadian Framework.

You will be required to disclose additional sources of funding from other programs, such as the Building Energy Retrofit Accelerator (BERA) Program in Edmonton. We also advise checking with the other funding sources as they may have additional conditions, limitations, or requirements.

5. What is BERA and how can I apply for ESB and BERA funding?

The City of Edmonton launched the Building Energy Retrofit Accelerator (BERA) Program, which is an incentive program that provides financial incentives for efficiency upgrades to commercial and institutional buildings in Edmonton. To learn more, please head to the Program website.

For Participants with facilities in Edmonton that meet the eligibility requirements of both programs, participants can apply to both programs independently to access additional funding up to a total of 50% of total eligible costs for overlapping measures in both programs. Where overlapping measures exist, we welcome eligible projects to consider accessing funding from both programs. For more information on incentive stacking and details on how to access both programs, please view the ESB-BERA Incentive Stacking Process document.

GENERAL PROGRAM QUESTIONS


1. What is different from previous programs offered in the province?

We learned from previous programs and from participant feedback, and are delivering an easy, streamlined, program with an expanded efficiency and onsite generation measures list. Quicker turnaround times for application decisions mean you can get to work and get your incentives faster. Lower-administrative costs also means more money delivered to Albertans in the form of incentives. The Participant Terms and Conditions have been simplified to only include legal requirements, and all supplemental information is now in the Program Guidebook.

2. How long will this program run for/how long can I apply?

Reserved funding will be allocated on a first-come, first-served basis until the program budget is fully allocated. The length of time depends on uptake and how quickly the funds are disbursed. To view the percentage of funds remaining go to the heading on the main ESB website page.

3. Will ERA keep the environmental attributes? Does this mean the awarded applicant cannot generate offset credits or Renewable Energy Certificates?

By accepting ESB funding for a project, Participants will need to convey ownership of all environmental attributes or environmental products generated over the life of the project to ERA. Because ERA retains the attributes, a participant will be unable to claim any offsets or any other credits from projects funded by ESB. The benefit with ESB’s incentive approach is that Participants can easily estimate the value of incentives to expect as a result of their project before proceeding. This allows Participants the ability to compare the costs and benefits of participating in the Program with other options and to choose the best path forward given their specific circumstances.

CONTRACTORS


1. I’m a contractor/supplier, do I need to register as an Eligible Contractor?

All Participant projects must assign an Eligible Contractor to proceed. If you feel that you will be able to help an Applicant complete an application, you should register as an Eligible Contractor. Typically, the Eligible Contractor will be the product installer or overseeing primary contractor for a Participant’s project. Eligible Contractors can help Applicants complete their applications by adding details about the measures and costs and providing supporting documentation. Eligible Contractors must meet the requirements in the Code of Conduct when they register.

If you are not going to be involved in the application process, and you do not have a hands-on role in the project, then it might not make sense to register.

2. Can I provide my customer a discount on their invoice and then collect the incentive myself?

Yes, as long as your customer (a Participant) submits a Project Incentive Payment to Eligible Contractor Authorization Form, which can be found in Schedule A of the Participant Terms and Conditions. This step is completed by the Participant during the post-project review stage once the participant has been notified that they are eligible to receive incentive payment.

If this arrangement is planned, please ensure that all documentation of expenses included as part of the post-project submission show the full costs before incentive values are deducted.

3. Why do some measures (WER, solar PV, CHP and geothermal) have additional contractor requirements?

WER, CHP, solar PV and geothermal are all measure categories that have additional requirements and a more comprehensive application process, due to the complex nature of the projects. The additional requirements are in place to ensure that both Participants and the Program benefit from the appropriate expertise. This is to ensure that projects are installed correctly and that applications are filled in correctly.

4. Can contractors create and submit a Project application on behalf of their clients?

Contractors can play a big role in helping Participants fill out technical aspects of the application; however, they cannot start an application on behalf of a client. The Participant must start the application and can then assign an Eligible Contractor. Once the main contractor has been assigned to the application, the Participant can allow the contractor to provide project information, such as technical specs, equipment/measure information, studies, etc. Prior to application submission, the applicant must sign off on the application, and submit it themselves.

5. I’m a subcontractor, do I need to apply?

You are welcome to apply to be an Eligible Contractor, however it is not necessary. Each application can only be linked to a single contractor, so we encourage the main contractor responsible for the project to register.

If there are multiple people from a single company who will need to access the application to input information, we recommend one of two options:

1. Set up a shared account that everyone can access
2. Identify the company name with a specific identifier (e.g., “ABC Contractor – John Smith). As long as the Applicant knows which person from ABC Contractor to assign when they see the dropdown list, it is fine.

If an Eligible Contractor wishes to hire a subcontractor to complete work on a project, the Eligible Contractor will be considered the main point of contact and will be accountable for the subcontractor’s work. It should be noted that all account holders will need to have the authority to agree to the contractor code of conduct or the terms and conditions as well as all the other requirements.

6. If I’m an Eligible Contractor, can I complete an ESB project on my own facility?

Yes, providing that all eligibility criteria are met. You will be required to register a second account as a Participant. Please see Starting a Project: “Do I need a contractor? What if my business can complete a project using our internal expertise?” for more information on how this works.