Frequently Asked Questions about the
Electric Program Investment Charge Program
(EPIC)


Question Topics


GENERAL EPIC PROGRAM INFORMATION

1. What is the Electric Program Investment Charge (EPIC) Program and why was it created?

The Electric Program Investment Charge (EPIC) Program was created by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) in December 2011 to support investments in clean energy technologies that provide benefits to the electricity ratepayers of Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E), San Diego Gas & Electric Company (SDG&E), and Southern California Edison Company (SCE). The EPIC program funds clean energy research, demonstration and deployment projects that support California's energy policy goals and promote greater electricity reliability, lower costs, and increased safety. The Energy Commission through EPIC will fill critical funding gaps within the energy innovation pipeline to advance technologies, tools, and strategies of near zero-net-energy residential homes and commercial buildings, high-efficient businesses, low-carbon localized generation, sustainable bioenergy systems, electrification of the transportation system, and a resilient grid that is supported by a highly flexible and robust distribution and transmission infrastructure. These smarter, safer energy advancements provide ratepayers with better electricity services, reduce air pollution, foster economic development, and help achieve the State's policy goals at the lowest possible cost.


2. How much funding is available for the EPIC Program?

EPIC funds will provide approximately $162 million annually from 2012‐2020 primarily to address policy and funding gaps related to the development, deployment, and commercialization of next generation clean energy technologies. Of this amount, the California Energy Commission administers approximately $130 million per year.


3. Who is responsible for administering the EPIC Program?

The CPUC designated the Energy Commission as one of four administrators of the program. The other designated administrators are the three large electric investor‐owned utilities (IOUs): Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E), San Diego Gas & Electric Company (SDG&E), and Southern California Edison Company (SCE). All funds will be administered under CPUC oversight.


4. What kind of ratepayer benefits will EPIC provide?

The primary and mandatory guiding principle of the EPIC Program is to provide IOU electricity ratepayer benefits, defined by the CPUC as promoting greater reliability, lower costs, and increased safety. The CPUC has also adopted the following guiding principles to complement the primary principles of electricity ratepayer benefits: societal benefits; GHG emissions mitigation and adaptation in the electricity sector at the lowest possible cost; following the State's loading order for energy; low-emission vehicles/transportation; economic development; and efficient use of ratepayer monies.

The investments will be directed in a manner to ensure that all program activities offer meaningful benefits to IOU ratepayers.


5. How is EPIC funded?

EPIC funds come from rates charged to electricity customers of PG&E, SDG&E, and SCE.

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KEEPING UP TO DATE WITH EPIC

1. Where can I find more information on the Energy Commission's planned investments for the EPIC Program?

The Energy Commission, along with the other three administrators, is required to submit a triennial investment plan to the CPUC for approval. The Energy Commission's 2012-2014 EPIC Investment Plan and proposed 2015-2017 EPIC Investment Plan are available at: http://www.energy.ca.gov/research/epic/documents/.


2. Where can I find information about current Energy Commission EPIC funding opportunities?

A list of open solicitations is available at: http://www.energy.ca.gov/contracts/epic.html.


3. What is the anticipated schedule for Energy Commission EPIC Program funding opportunities?

A tentative schedule of upcoming funding opportunities is available at:
http://www.energy.ca.gov/research/upcoming_funding.html.


4. How do I stay informed about the EPIC Program?

The EPIC ListServer will provide notification of upcoming workshops, posted documents, and other activities related to EPIC. Interested parties can sign up for the EPIC ListServer by visiting the Energy Commission's EPIC website at: http://www.energy.ca.gov/research/epic/.

The Energy Commission's Opportunity ListServer will provide notification of all Energy Commission funding opportunities, including EPIC. Interested parties can sign up for the Energy Commission's Opportunity ListServer at: http://www.energy.ca.gov/contracts/epic.html.


5. Where can I find more information related to EPIC proceedings?

Energy Commission EPIC information can be found at: http://www.energy.ca.gov/contracts/epic.html. Information about the EPIC proceedings conducted by the California Public Utilities Commission, which has oversight over the entire EPIC program and is currently considering administrator's EPIC investment plans for 2015-2017, can be found at:
http://www.cpuc.ca.gov/general.aspx?id=4801.

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HOW TO APPLY FOR EPIC FUNDING OPPORTUNITIES

1. What is the general solicitation process timeline?

Application Development

Generally, a pre-application workshop will be held approximately 2 weeks after the solicitation is released, marked by the posting of the solicitation materials on the Energy Commission's Funding website. This workshop provides an opportunity for applicants to ask questions and network with other participants interested in teaming up for a project. See question 3 for additional information about the pre-application workshop.

Staff will prepare written responses to the questions asked at the workshop and those submitted in writing by the deadline specified in the solicitation materials. These will be posted on the website and emailed to those on the listservers. It is recommended that you read the solicitation materials and deadlines carefully because the timeline to ask questions is generally only a couple weeks after the solicitation is released. Once the deadline for submitting questions has passed staff are not allowed to respond to individual comments outside the public process that could potentially give an applicant an unfair advantage over others. Also, if there are any addenda to the solicitation, they will be posted and emailed out to the listservers, along with the written Q&As.

Applications are due approximately 6-8 weeks after the release of the solicitation.

Evaluation and Awards

After the deadline for application submissions has passed, Energy Commission staff will screen applications for administrative requirements. Applications that pass this initial screening are submitted to an Evaluation Committee who will review and score them.

After being scored, applications will be ranked, and those with the top scores will be recommended for a proposed award based on available solicitation funding.

The Notice of Proposed Award (NOPA), is posted approximately 4 months after the solicitation is released. The NOPA will list all proposals in rank order, starting with the highest-scoring applications. It will also identify which projects will be recommended for approval by the Energy Commission at a business meeting.

Agreement Development and Execution

As many factors impact agreement development, the timeline for development will vary for each agreement. However, in general Energy Commission staff will coordinate with the recipient to finalize the agreement documents within the 3 months following the release of the NOPA.

Projects recommended for funding in the NOPA will be considered for approval by Commissioners at an Energy Commission Business Meeting. Once the agreement has been executed by all parties, the work can begin. The process typically takes approximately 9-10 months, from the release of the solicitation until the agreement is completely executed.


2. How is the solicitation information released?

When a solicitation is released, all information and materials are posted to the Energy Commission's website. An email notification is also sent to the EPIC and Opportunity ListServers.

Sign up for the EPIC ListServer by going to: http://www.energy.ca.gov/research/epic/. Sign up for the Opportunity ListServer by going to: http://www.energy.ca.gov/contracts/epic.html.

All questions and comments should be directed to the Energy Commission Agreement Officer listed in the solicitation, once the solicitation is released.


3. What is the pre-application workshop?

The pre-application workshop will review the purpose and requirements of the solicitation, and give attendees an opportunity to ask clarifying questions in person. Interested parties are encouraged to attend in-person or via web conference using WebEx. Information including: date, time, location, and web participation instructions are contained in the solicitation materials.

Pre-application workshops can also be a good place for interested parties to meet and network with one another in order to team up for particular projects.

Attendees who leave their email address will receive a list of all workshop attendees, a Q&A document, and notifications about addenda to the solicitation. These documents will also be posted on the Energy Commission's website at: http://www.energy.ca.gov/contracts.


4. Who is eligible to apply for EPIC funding?

Generally, individuals, as well as public and private entities are eligible to apply for EPIC funding. Specific eligibility requirements will be listed in individual solicitation materials.

Any agreement resulting from a solicitation will include terms and conditions that recipients are required to abide by. Failure to agree to these terms and conditions will result in disqualification of the application. These terms and conditions are available on the Energy Commission’s website at
http://www.energy.ca.gov/research/contractors.html.

Any entities that conduct intrastate business in California and are required to register with the California Secretary of State must be registered and in good standing prior to entering into an agreement with the Energy Commission. Information on registration can be found on the Secretary of State’s website at: http://www.sos.ca.gov/.


5. What types of projects are eligible for funding?

Each solicitation will specify which types of projects are eligible for funding. Generally, eligible projects must have the potential to benefit California IOU ratepayers by providing greater reliability, lower costs, and/or increased safety; and must fall into one of the following categories: Applied Research and Development, Technology Demonstration and Deployment, or Market Facilitation.

  • Applied research and development projects are defined as activities supporting pre-commercial technologies and approaches that are designed to solve specific problems in the electricity sector. “Pre-commercial” refers to technologies and strategies that have not reached commercial maturity or been deployed at scales and in conditions sufficiently large to reflect the anticipated annual operating environments to enable appraisal of operational performance characteristics or financial risks.

    At the applied research and development stage, bench and pilot testing is done to validate results and provide proof of concept. Pilot demonstrations test the design and validity of an approach and adjustments can be made at this stage before full-scale demonstrations. In general, these projects do not need to be in IOU service territory (PG&E, SCE, SDG&E), but please consult the solicitation manual for specific requirements.
  • Technology demonstration and deployment projects aims to evaluate the performance and cost effectiveness of pre-commercial technologies at or near commercial scale to bring these technologies closer to market. The demonstration and deployment activities will typically occur in IOU service territories.
  • Market facilitation projects focus on overcoming non-technical barriers and challenges to help new technologies find early market footholds in IOU service territories. This can include procurement and permitting approaches and development of advanced analytical tools.

Additionally, projects must fall within one or more of the strategic objectives and funding initiatives identified in the Energy Commission’s EPIC Investment Plans. Review the EPIC Investment Plans for descriptions of program areas, strategic objectives, and funding initiatives at:
http://www.energy.ca.gov/research/epic/documents/.


6. What should be included in my application package?

Applications must be submitted in the format and order specified in the solicitation. Typically, applications may be rejected if they are missing any of the following common application elements:

  • Application Form
  • Executive Summary
  • Fact Sheet
  • Project Narrative
  • Project Team Form/Resumes
  • Scope of Work/Schedule of Products and Due Dates
  • Budget for the prime and subcontractor(s) per the workbook requirements
  • CEQA Compliance Form
  • Reference and Work Product Form
  • Contact List
  • Commitment and Support Letters

7. What is the typical application format?

Applicants should refer to the "Application Organization and Submission Instructions" section of the solicitation materials, so that they know what will be required for that specific solicitation. Because the requirements may vary from solicitation to solicitation, applicants should take care in addressing each of these requirements or risk being disqualified. Applications that are difficult to read, incomplete, or do not meet the solicitation format requirements may be rejected.


8. How do I submit my application?

The cover of the original and all copies of the application must be labeled "Program Opportunity Notice PON" with the specific PON number located in the solicitation. Include the title of the application and the applicant's name.

Only authorized representatives are allowed to sign an application.

The hard copy of the application and any required copies must be sealed and delivered to the Energy Commission's Contracts, Grants, and Loans Office by the due date and time listed in the solicitation. Postmark dates of mailing DO NOT count as delivery.

Applications received after the date and time specified in the solicitation will be considered late and will not be accepted under any circumstances- no exceptions. Allow enough time for the courier service to deliver your application to the Energy Commission.

Please note that FAX and email submissions are not acceptable under any circumstances.

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APPLICATION EVALUATION CRITERIA

1. How will my application be evaluated?

Stage One: Application Screening

Energy Commission staff screens applications per criteria listed in the solicitation materials. Criteria are evaluated on a pass/fail basis. Applicants that do not pass all screening criteria will be disqualified.

Potential Reasons for Failing Stage One:

  • The application is not submitted by the specified due date and time.
  • The application is not signed.
  • The applicant did not address at least one of the eligible funding areas.
  • The requested funding is outside of the specified minimum/maximum range.
  • The application does not follow specified format.
  • The applicant did not discuss the minimum match funding requirement.
  • The project completion date is beyond the specified agreement end date.
  • The proposal contains confidential material.
  • The applicant has indicated that it will not accept the terms and conditions.

Stage Two: Application Scoring

Applications that pass all Stage One Application Screening criteria will be scored by an Evaluation Committee.

Sample Application Scoring Criteria

  1. Technical Merit and Need - justifies the need for the project and EPIC funding, explains how the project will lead to technological breakthroughs and overcome barriers to achieving state goals, and provides a plan for measuring benefits as stated in the project goals.
  2. Technical Approach - describes how tasks will be coordinated among team members, and how the project will be coordinated among the team.
  3. Impacts and Benefits for California electric IOU Ratepayers - explains how the proposed project will benefit California electric IOU ratepayers with respect to the EPIC goals of greater reliability, lower costs, and/or increased safety; also identifies the benefits and timeframe for achievement.
  4. Team Qualifications, Capabilities, and Resources - describes the team members' education and experience and demonstrates the applicant's financial ability to complete the project.
  5. Budget and Cost-Effectiveness – assesses whether the budget for this project is reasonable, including non-labor costs.
  6. EPIC Funds Spent in California - While there is no minimum amount of funding that must be spent in California, applicants that demonstrate spending 60 percent or more in-state will receive points in this section during the scoring.
  7. Ratio of Direct Labor and Fringe Benefit Rates to Loaded Labor Rates – compares the direct labor rates (including fringe benefits) to the total loaded rates which include direct labor, fringe benefits and indirect rates such as overhead, General and Administrative or profit. This criterion is meant to encourage prudent spending of public funds and applicants with higher indirect rates will receive lower scores.
  8. Match Funding (if applicable) – Additional points may be provided to applicants that provide match funding that exceeds the minimum amount specified in the solicitation and that meet other requirements in the solicitation.

In order to pass, proposals must typically achieve at least 70 percent of the total points for all criteria AND at least 70 percent of the total points available for criteria 1-4.

Criteria 1-4 are used to measure the technical aspects of the project and likelihood of success. An application scoring less than 70 percent of the total points for these criteria will be rejected.


2. Can my application be rejected?

Typically, an application may be rejected by the Energy Commission for the following reasons:

  • The application contains false or misleading statements.
  • The application is intended to mislead the State in its evaluation.
  • The application does not comply with the solicitation requirements.
  • The application contains confidential information.
  • The applicant is not in compliance with royalty provisions from previous Energy Commission awards.
  • The applicant has received unsatisfactory evaluations from the Energy Commission or another California state agency.
  • The applicant has not demonstrated financial capability to complete the project.

For a more complete list of reasons why an application may be rejected, applicants should refer to the solicitation documents.


3. What is the technical scoring scale?

All responses to the scoring criteria will be evaluated using a scoring scale such as the one below, and will be based on the quality and completeness of responses in the application.

  • 0% (Not responsive): The response does not include or fails to address the criteria. The omission(s), flaw(s), or defect(s) are significant and unacceptable.
  • 10-30% (Minimally responsive): The response minimally addresses the criteria. The omission(s), flaw(s), or defect(s) are significant and unacceptable.
  • 40-60% (Inadequate): The response addresses the criteria. There are one or more omissions, flaws, or defects or the criteria are addressed in a limited way that results in a low degree of confidence in the proposed solution.
  • 70% (Adequate): The response adequately addresses the criteria. Any omission(s), flaw(s), or defect(s) are inconsequential and acceptable.
  • 80% (Good): The response fully addresses the requirements being scored with a good degree of confidence in the applicant's response or proposed solution. There are no identified omission(s), flaw(s), or defect(s). Any identified weaknesses are minimal, inconsequential, and acceptable.
  • 90% (Excellent): The response fully addresses the criteria with a high degree of confidence in the applicant's response or proposed solution. The applicant offers one or more enhancing features, methods, or approaches that exceed basic expectations.
  • 100% (Exceptional): All requirements are addressed with the highest degree of confidence in the applicant's response or proposed solution. The response exceeds the requirements in providing multiple enhancing features, a creative approach, or an exceptional solution.

4. What is a clarification interview?

If the Evaluation Committee believes that the application is unclear, it may request a clarification interview with the applicant. This interview will consist of clarifying questions related to the criterion in question only. New information or changes cannot be added to the application at this point. For example, if an applicant accidentally lists two different numbers for the same item in different places, the Evaluation Committee can request the applicant to clarify which number is correct.


5. How are applications ranked?

Applications that receive a total average score of 70 percent or higher for sections 1-4, as well as the overall total score for the technical evaluation, will be ranked according to their scores. The Evaluation Committee will recommend applicants for funding starting from the top of the list (for example: rank 1, 2, 3, etc.) until funds are exhausted.


6. How will I be notified of the solicitation results?

The Energy Commission Agreement Officer will send letters to applicants informing them of their status, as well as a Notice of Proposed Awards (NOPA) and scoring matrix. NOPAs are also posted on the Energy Commission's funding web page at: http://www.energy.ca.gov/contracts.


7. Who can I speak to if I did not receive an award?

If an application does not pass, or is not awarded funding, the applicant may request a debriefing by contacting the Energy Commission Agreement Officer within 15 days after the NOPA is posted. The purpose of a debriefing is to provide the applicant with information on the strengths and weaknesses of its application. This information could be used to improve applications for future solicitations. However, no other solicitations or applications may be discussed during a debriefing.

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POST EVALUATION AND SELECTION

1. What happens to my application after the selection process?

After the NOPA is posted, all applications become public and are subject to viewing under the California Public Records Act. Applicants should consider this before they include information in their proposals.


2. How do I develop my final agreement if my application is selected?

After the NOPA is posted, potential recipients will be contacted by the Energy Commission's Agreement Manager (CAM) to develop the grant agreement. The Scope of Work in the application is finalized and the project schedule will be updated, if necessary. At this time, usually only clarifying edits/minor adjustments are made to the scope of work and budget (but no increases to the budget). The only exception is a reduction in scope and budget due to a lesser amount of funding being made available for the project. This can occur when there are not enough funds for a lower-ranked passing project (e.g., funding exists to fully fund the top five ranked projects but only partially fund the sixth-ranked passing project). In these situations, the Commission works with the applicant to determine if a reduced project scope and budget can fit within the remaining funds.

In addition to the budget and scope of work, other forms and documents must be completed before entering into an agreement with the Energy Commission. The CAM will identify these documents during the agreement development process.


3. When can the selected project start?

Before the project can start, the finalized agreement must be signed and approved by both the Energy Commission and recipient, and must usually be approved at an Energy Commission Business Meeting. For solicitations resulting in contracts instead of grants, approval by the Department of General Services (DGS) is also usually necessary because DGS has broad authority over state contracting. No work can be performed or funding spent, including match funding, until the agreement has been signed and fully executed.

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