Frequently Asked Questions

General Questions

Can my organization apply for TSAF funding if we reside off trust land/reservation?
Yes, if your organization is “tribally-led” with a 501(c)(3) non-profit status that serves majority tribal members.

What if my tribe is not federally or state recognized?
The TSAF will only provide grant funding to tribes who are federal, or state recognized due to the certain inherent rights of self-government (i.e., tribal sovereignty) and protections on tribal and trust lands, especially in regard to environmental sustainability (i.e., energy planning, development, and infrastructure).

Does each proposed project need a tribal council resolution or letter of support for TSAF funding?
Yes. Please include the following in your tribal resolution or letter of support:

  • Approval of the TSAF application (specify funding area; matching funds, tribal facility, or tribal residential)
  • Acknowledgement of all terms and conditions required to receive funding (including the acceptance of Wells Fargo financial support and agreement to communications expectations)
  • Please note: “tribal council” can refer to the governing body or primary decision-making executive, such as President/Governor, but must be the highest level of leadership within the tribal unit, individually or as a council

What if I am concerned about the funding coming from Wells Fargo?
We affirm the principles and convictions of all tribes in their self-determination and tribal sovereignty, therefore, we respect all tribes who decide against applying for TSAF funds for any reason. Please see the RFP for guidance about how Wells Fargo and GRID Alternatives intend to work with tribes on TSAF communications and other areas.

Do you fund tribes in Alaska? What about Hawaii, Canada or Mexico?
At this point, TSAF is focusing on funding federally-recognized tribes in the lower 48 states and Alaska.

If our tribe/tribal organization incurs expenses related to the proposed project prior to the start of the grant period, can we include these costs in the budget?
No. All costs must be incurred between the stated grant period start and end dates.

How do I gather and prepare the required financial documents?
The TSAF encourages you to work with your tribe/tribal organization’s accountant to prepare a clear and accurate project budget and budget narrative. Project applications without complete budget documents will not be considered.

Can the TSAF and/or GRID provide assistance in developing our tribe/tribal organization’s grant application?
TSAF will offer a recorded webinar on March 15, 2019 for potential applicants to learn about the background, funding priorities and goals, application process, and answer any FAQ’s. On a limited basis, TSAF staff is available via phone call or email to answer specific questions (e.g. eligibility for a specific grant).

Does the TSAF require reporting as part of a grant award?
Yes, all funding opportunities will require applicants to submit reports by March 1, 2020.  Reporting templates will be provided by December 1, 2019. The following reporting guidelines are; 1) Project activities and metrics, 2) Unanticipated circumstances and lessons learned, 3) Communications and publicity, and 4) Budget.

What types of project costs are allowable?
Allowable project costs include supplies, solar equipment and construction materials, in-kind, personnel (salary + fringe), contractual costs (including interconnection and permitting costs), and project contingency funds.

How can I get feedback on a proposal submitted that was not funded?
Submit an email request with your tribe/tribal organization name and type of project (matching funds or project funds) to contact@tribalsolar.org.

Can you define shovel ready?
The TSAF is open to projects that may require some solar installation preparation work, but the TSAF prefers to support projects that are ready for installation, which requires the roof to be in a condition that will not require repairs during the lifecycle of the system.

Do you expect the TSAF grant to be a regular funding opportunity?
TSAF funding is currently available through 2021. Our team is working hard to raise philanthropic funding to sustain the TSAF.

Does TSAF require a tribe to have a long-term energy plan in place when applying?
A long-term energy plan is not a requirement, but it does provide the application reviewers and the TSAF team with a sense of project replicability that can be shared with other tribal communities.

Does GRID Alternatives need to be our installer?
No, projects can work with any installer. Projects that use installation teams with workforce development opportunities (apprenticeships, internships, and other training programs) will be more compelling to TSAF reviewers, as will tribally-led teams. However, any local installer is acceptable.

The grant year is July 1 – June 30, but the final report to TSAF is due March 1? Will I need to report on planned activities and spending through June 30?
Yes, please do your best to project spending and activities through June 30. We understand that some regions of the country have unpredictable seasons that may delay project installation.

When is the last day to submit a tribal resolution/ tribal council letter of support for the proposed TSAF application?
The TSAF understands that tribal councils may not meet frequently or they have agendas with many priorities, and obtaining a tribal council resolution or letter of support may be challenging, so the TSAF will accept the required document up to 30 days after the application due date. Please indicate in your application that a letter will be submitted within 30 days.

What technical assistance resources will be available to grantees?
If/when GRID Alternatives is the installer for the project, technical assistance will be provided throughout the process. For non-GRID Alternatives installed projects, technical assistance will be limited. Please ask us for more information about specific situations and technical assistance needs.

How do I verify low income eligibility?
TSAF asks that your application provide a percentage of LMI tribal members who are eligible for federal, state, or tribal low-income programs. If/when your residential or tribal facility (serving tribal members) is awarded, then the TSAF will ask for LMI documentation for those residing in the residence.

Facility and residential questions

Will TSAF fund multifamily housing, or just single-family housing?
Since multifamily housing projects are more complex, we emphasized single-family homes in the RFP. However, multifamily projects can be suitable as long as the solar system directly benefits the tenants.

The TSAF application provides a 15-25kW range for tribal facility projects, is that the minimum and maximum allowed under TSAF?
The kW size referenced in the RFP and applications is only meant as a guide for specific systems. The TSAF will support system sizes that meet the needs of your community.

Other types of projects

When can we expect RFP for the Tribal Energy Community Innovation grant and the Tribal College and University in Energy grant?
The TSAF Tribal Energy Innovation grant program and the Tribal College and University in Energy grant program will open applications in July 2019. Please check the tribalsolar.org website for updates.

With the workforce development support initiative, will the TSAF only fund projects that result in an installation of some kind?
Yes, TSAF will only support workforce development components if a solar system is installed.

Can a tribe use the funding toward program finance, such as workforce development?
In the spirit of the funding from WF, the TSAF is prioritizing the funding support for new project funding.

Can TSAF be used on off-grid and grid-tied projects?
Yes, TSAF understands the varying needs in tribal communities, especially those in isolated and remote areas that rely on off-grid systems.

Are carports and ground mounts included?
Yes, TSAF will support carport and ground-mount solar projects as long as the energy produced from these projects provide benefits to the tribal community.

Are storage or electric vehicle (EV) chargers allowable projects?
Yes, TSAF is open to supporting storage and EV charger projects, but they must be connected to a solar component.

Can the fund be used for re roofing or MSP upgrades necessary to install solar?
The TSAF is open to projects that may require some solar installation preparation work, but the TSAF prefers to support projects that are ready for installation, which requires the roof to be in a condition that will not require repairs during the lifecycle of the system.

Can the funds be used to install solar on a tribal casino?
No, TSAF is a program of GRID Alternatives who’s primary focus is to provide low to moderate income (LMI) communities with access to solar for multi-family and single family residential as well as tribal facilities (i.e. tribal administration buildings).

Matching funds

Can a local member owned electric cooperative provide the match for a tribe?
Yes, as long as 51% of the board of directors and leadership of the cooperative are enrolled tribal members, than this is an eligible organization under the TSAF.

Does TSAF require matching funds?
If your tribe/tribal organization is applying for the matching funds grant program, Yes, your tribe/tribal organization is required to acquire the matching funds for your project. TSAF does not require matching funds for the tribal facility-tribal residential funding application.

Can TSAF funds be applied to grant match requirements?

Yes, TSAF funds can be applied to matching grant opportunities specific to solar energy projects such as:

  • 2018 DOE Energy Infrastructure Deployment on Tribal Lands grantees with an outstanding cost-share should apply. However, due to the limitations of the 2019 DOE – Energy Infrastructure Deployment on Tribal Lands cost-share allowability criteria and timeline. We suggest 2019 DOE Energy Infrastructure Deployment on Tribal Lands applicants who do not have the full DOE FOA cost share to apply for 2020 TSAF grant funding once your DOE application is awarded.
  • USDA Renewable Energy Systems & Energy Efficiency Improvement Guaranteed Loans & Grants
  • Department of Interior – Bureau of Land Management – Solar Energy Projects

If there is other solar project matching funds opportunities that may be a good fit with a TSAF application, please do not hesitate to ask the TSAF staff at contact@tribalsolar.org