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Frequently Asked Questions

Select a FOA to view questions and answers for the specific funding opportunity. Alternatively select "Non-FOA related items" to view system FAQ items.

Question 1: If we have funding from ARPA-E or NSF (or other agency) can we use this award as part of the 50% cost share?
Answer 1:

This is acceptable to BPA to use DOE or NSF funding as cost share, however, confirmation from ARPA-E or NSF would be required to ensure they support use of those dollars as cost share for other projects.  This confirmation should be provided during Phase 2.

Question 1: My understanding from the “Budget Workbook Guidance” document (p. 1) is that I will not need to include a separate sub-recipient Budget Workbook as the sub-recipient’s request is under 50%. However, as I complete the Budget Workbook, the statement “Separate Budget Forms Required for this Sub-Recipient!” is present in the “Contractual In-Kind” Tab. Can you please clarify this requirement? Will a separate budget required for a sub-award request just under 50%?
Answer 1:

A prior version of the budget workbook built that formula in for any sub-recipient over $100k.  You are correct that this announcement only requires it for subrecipients that are over 50%.  If selected for award, a high level budget maybe requested but nothing would be required at this time.  An updated workbook has been uploaded but continued use of the prior version is allowed.

Question 1: Please describe more about the Focus Area.
Answer 1:

BPA is interested in receiving proposals that address technologies and/or technology gaps that enhance BPA’s

ability to monitor, control and use the BPA’s FCRPS (hydro, transmission, energy efficiency & demand response)

assets in an integrated manner to operate the system flexibly to manage real-time operational requirements,

fluctuations in load-resource balance and within-hour dispatch of energy.

 

For example, within the Federal Columbia River Power System, the ability to understand and anticipate the value

potential of flexible operations is a key element for BPA to derive full value from new circumstances evolving

within the Western Interconnected electric grid. Similarly, transmission faces challenges in moving to new

operating paradigms arising from higher uncertainty in load patterns and changes in markets and product

offerings that [require improved] demand real-time visibility (situational awareness), control equipment, and

computational capability. As well, in demand side management, new combinations of responsive assets bring

flexibility to the future BPA needs.

 

To that end, the BPA is interested to receive research proposals that address advancement in flexible operation

technologies based on BPA’s Technology Roadmaps.

Question 1: When will the reviewers be notified that proposals are available to review?
Answer 1:

An email will be sent out to the reviewers on 5/11, indicating that proposals are available for review.  If you don’t receive an email and you are registered in the Exchange site, or when you log into the system and don’t see any proposals assigned to you, please contact Judith Estep (503-230-5997) or James Bowen (503-230-3096)

Question 1: We are interested in technical proposals that address roadmapping topics.
Answer 1: As described, we are not interested in receiving proposals about the process to manage R&D or Capital projects.  Thank you for your question.
Question 2: Are there any issues with having international subcontractors as part of team?
Answer 2:

Use of non-U.S. citizens on the project team is generally allowable but may have some limitations depending on the nature of the project and the location where work is performed.  Non-U.S. citizen access to BPA facilities may be limited and require additional lead time.  The applicant should indicate any requirement for this in their submittal.

Question 3: We would like to do a demonstration project on a BPA site, would that be acceptable? What about an independent site?
Answer 3:

The answer depends on a lot of variables such as the sensitivity of the site proposed, security clearance of project partners, and BPA resources available to support it.  Applicants should list all the resources required of BPA staff and facilities in their application. Additionally, if alternative options exist, that should be included so that multiple options could be evaluated for feasibility and likelihood of project success.

Question 4: Can spending prior to the start of the project be accepted for cost share?
Answer 4:

No, all cost share will be tracked from the beginning of the project.  It’s possible the project could be approved to start earlier (Aug/Sept) but unlikely.  Cost share should be planned for accrual beginning no sooner than October.

Question 5: We have substantial investment in equipment, software, etc… which we would like to use for cost share. How about if it was donated from a third party? Would that be acceptable?
Answer 5:

Generally no.  Project cost share must be contributed during the life of the project. The only acceptable costs for purchases already made would be through approved indirect cost rates for depreciation, maintenance, etc…For partners, if they have published billing rates for the use of that service/equipment, and the prime would have to pay for it otherwise, it would likely be considered acceptable.  However, if a unique circumstance applies that you would like specific review of, please send an e-mail to the POC with a detailed question.

The most common type of cost share is in-kind labor (donated time from the prime or subs) which is accepted at cost rates (actual salary w/out profit, plus fringe and approved indirect costs) and cash (contributed from the prime, sub-recipients, or partners).

Question 6: Is there a percentage of projects that will be awarded in each roadmap?
Answer 6:

No.  There is no specific percentage of projects required to be awarded in any roadmap nor is there between external and internal projects.  We will try to limit any large amount of projects in one particular area but will not fund lesser qualified projects just to address a certain area.  If no highly evaluated projects are submitted for certain areas, it is likely there will be no projects in that area awarded.

Question 7: Is there a requirement that research take place within the BPA region?
Answer 7: There is no requirement that projects take place within the region.  However, all projects must show application to BPA and the region as they will be evaluated for specific benefits to BPA and the Pacific Northwest
Question 8: Can principal investigators, organization project leaders, partners, or participants change or be added between the phase 1 and 2 applications?
Answer 8:

Yes.  Project team members and partners may change between Phase 1 and Phase 2, but the qualifications/experience of the parties provided in Phase 1 would be expected to be matched with any changes.

Question 9: How much BPA collaboration is required for each project?
Answer 9:

BPA is substantially involved in each project from initial review, project change recommendations, stage gate reviews, monthly status reports, and overall support.  However, specific BPA staff time and input is not required for each task nor a specific number of meetings required (beyond a TI Summit Presentation).  Please identify your required amount of BPA involvement if additional is needed above the project management practices noted above.

Question 10: While submitting an applicaiton, under the general tab in big red letters, it reads "Please ensure that this Abstract matches the Abstract in your application document." But, there is no mention of including an abstract in the Phase 1 content section. What should I put here?
Answer 10: The expectation is for no “new” text to be included in that box.  Any project summary or brief description of the project would suffice.  Ideally, an overview paragraph or abstract might be included in your concept paper that could be copy/pasted into this section.  If you don’t have a paragraph that can easily be copied, a very brief project overview would be acceptable.  There will be no evaluation of whether this section matches an "abstract" in your concept paper.
Question 11: It says in Part III.B in the solicitation that "(d) Indirect costs or facilities and administrative costs” could count towards cost share. My research office is interpreting this as the following: If my institution normally asks for x% indirect rate, then if they only ask for (x-y)% on this proposal, then (y% * direct_costs) can be written off as cost-share. Is this correct?
Answer 11:

That is correct.  The difference from those costs “normally” assessed would be considered cost share (e.g. normal institution rate is 50% on total direct costs but they choose to assess on 30% on this project, therefore 20% * direct costs = the amount that can be considered cost share).

Question 12: The qualifications and experience section requires a resume for each of the principal investigators and key personnel, also required is to include a brief description of direct technology and relevant experience of every one. Can I combine these two in the description as one to save pages.
Answer 12: Yes, this is acceptable.
Question 13: What are the categories that BPA used to identify the projects that may submit an application for Phase 2? Is there a higher rating than Encouraged? Or does the BPA essentially say Not Qualified for Phase 2 OR Encouraged?
Answer 13: There is no higher rating than encouraged.  Other applicants could have also received discouraged, (indicating there was an element(s) that would prevent the application from being considered as is but was possibly correctable.  These applicants could submit a phase 2 application if they fixed the element(s)), or non-compliant (indicating an uncorrectable element(s) and preventing them from submitting a phase 2 application).
Question 14: How does the TI Summit work? Can my project be stopped immediately?
Answer 14:

The Summit Week is a review of the entire portfolio by the Technology Innovation/Confirmation Council to decide which projects move forward or stop. Prune considerations may include portfolio balancing, relative benefit to BPA, and/or a need to reduce fiscal year spending; and may not necessarily imply poor project performance. BPA must consider the continuing value of the project to BPA.  A project that is otherwise performing well may still be pruned as a result of the Summit evaluation.  For example, in the course of a project an alternative solution might be discovered independently, reducing or eliminating the value to BPA of continuing the project.  In another example, the project that looked promising now cannot deliver because of an extremely slow start, or because principal investigators change, or key project components are not progressing as planned.  

 

Project will generally be stopped within 30 days of the prune, with limited opportunities to extend beyond that.

 

prior to submitting an application, Applicants are ENCOURAGED to assess the risk and implications of the possibility of having a project terminated during the course of the project.

Question 15: Who holds the Intellectual Property (IP) rights to technology developed with funding under this FOA? Does DoE or BPA have claims?
Answer 15:

In general, IP rights are held by the creator (ownership by the recipient) and BPA/DOE only requests license rights to inventions/work products.  Our terms and conditions are available as another attachment along with the announcement on BPA Exchange for further review.

Question 16: What are the high level cost share requirements?
Answer 16:

The basic standard involves three questions that must be answered in the affirmative; 1 – will the cost share be incurred during the period of performance of the project (i.e. no prior work can be counted), 2 – would the in-kind work be necessary for the project (i.e. the results will be used and otherwise required no matter who does it) and have to be paid for separately if not provided, and 3 – are the costs allowable per applicable cost principles and FOA guidelines?