7 CFR § 4288.21 - Application review and scoring.
The Agency will evaluate projects based on the cost, cost-effectiveness, and capacity of projects to reduce fossil fuels. The cost of the project will be taken into consideration in the context of each project's ability to economically produce energy from renewable biomass to replace its dependence on fossil fuels. Projects with higher costs that are less efficient will not score well. The scoring criteria are designed to evaluate projects on simple payback as well as the percentage of fossil fuel reduction.
(a) Review. The Agency will evaluate each application and make a determination as to whether the applicant is eligible, whether the proposed project is eligible, and whether the proposed payment request complies with all applicable statutes and regulations. This evaluation will be conducted by experts in the Agency and other Federal agencies, including the U.S. Department of Energy based on the information provided by the applicant.
(b) Scoring. The Agency will score each application in order to prioritize each proposed project. The maximum number of points awardable to any applicant will be 100. The evaluation criteria that the Agency will use to score these projects are specified in paragraphs (b)(1) through (b)(6) of this section.
(1) Cost-effectiveness. Cost-effectiveness will be scored based on the anticipated simple payback period, or “simple payback.” Anticipated simple payback will be demonstrated by calculating documented base energy use costs for the 24-month period prior to submission of the application or at least 12 months of data supported by engineering and design calculations, and site plans, prepared by the construction engineering firm.
(i) The simple payback period is calculated as follows:
(ii) A maximum of 20 points will be awarded as follows:
(A) If the anticipated simple payback is less than or equal to 4 years, award 20 points.
(B) If the anticipated simple payback is greater than 4 years but less than or equal to 6 years, award 10 points.
(C) If the anticipated simple payback will be greater than 6 years but less than or equal to 10 years, award 5 points.
(D) If the anticipated simple payback will be greater than 10 years, award 0 points.
(2) Percentage of reduction of fossil fuel use. The anticipated percent reduction in the use of fossil fuels will be measured using the same evidence provided by the applicant for measuring cost-effectiveness. However, this set of criteria will measure actual fossil fuel use for the 24-month period prior to submission of the application or for at least 12 months of data supported by engineering and design calculations, and site plans, prepared by the construction engineering firm. All fossil fuel use, for thermal loads as well as for electric use, will be evaluated by using information provided by the Energy Information Agency (EIA). The Agency will determine the percentage reduction of fossil fuel use based on and in cooperation with the applicant's submission of electric power provider contracts, power agreements, and utility billings in relation to available information from the EIA. A maximum of 35 points will be awarded as follows:
(vi) If any of the fossil fuel being replaced is natural gas, deduct 5 points.
(3) Renewable biomass factors. If an applicant demonstrates at the time of application that it has on site available access to renewable biomass or enforceable third party commitments to supply renewable biomass for the repowering project for at least 3 years, 5 points will be awarded. If an applicant cannot demonstrate this, no points will be awarded.
(4) Technical review factors. Technical reviews will be conducted by a team of experts, including rural energy coordinators and State engineers. The Agency may engage the services of other government agencies or other recognized industry experts in the applicable technology field, at its discretion, to evaluate and rate the application. Each section of the technical review will be scored within a range of possible points available within that section. A maximum of 25 points will be awarded as follows:
(i) Qualifications of the applicant's project team. The applicant must describe the qualifications of those individuals who will be essential to successful performance of the proposed project. This will include information regarding professional credentials, relevant experience, and education, and must be supported with documentation of service capabilities, professional credentials, licenses, certifications, and resumes, as applicable. Award 0-5 points.
(ii) Agreements and permits. The applicant must describe the agreements and permits necessary for project implementation. An Agency-acceptable schedule for securing the required documents and permits must be provided. Award 0-4 points.
(iii) Design and engineering. The applicant must describe the design, engineering, and testing needed for the proposed project. The Design and Engineering documents shall demonstrate that they meet the intended purpose, ensure public safety, and comply with all applicable laws, regulations, agreements, permits, codes, and standards. Award 0-4 points.
(iv) Project development schedule. The applicant must provide a detailed plan for project development including a proposed schedule of activities, a description of each significant task, its beginning and end, and its relationship to the time needed to initiate and carry the project through to successful completion. This description must address the applicant's project development cash flow requirements. Award 0-3 points.
(v) Equipment procurement. The applicant must describe the equipment needed, and the availability of the equipment needed, to complete installation and activation of the new system. The description supports that the required equipment is available, and can be procured and delivered within the proposed project development schedule. Award 0-3 points.
(vi) Equipment installation. The applicant must provide a satisfactory description of the plan for site development and system installation that reflects the soundness of the project plan. Award 0-3 points.
(vii) Operations and maintenance. The applicant must describe the operations and maintenance requirements of the system necessary for the system to operate as designed and provide the savings and efficiencies as described. The description and requirements noted must be supportable by the technical review. Award 0-3 points.