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April 2014 WAP Wire


MN Weatherization Assistance Program: Program Notes of Service Providers

Four listening sessions held; new date for Northern session set

Regional listening sessions have taken place in the Metro, Southeast, Southwest, and Central Regions. Commerce has found the sessions to be extremely useful for the State to better understand the issues Service Providers are facing as well as reinforce the dedication and commitment that all parties have in meeting the low-income weatherization assistance program goals. A big thank you goes out to all who have participated.

The Northern listening session has been rescheduled for May 29, 1-4 pm. The Northern listening session will take place in the Board Room of the Blandin Foundation in Grand Rapids, Minn. Please RSVP for this session with Jodi B. at weatherization.commerce@state.mn.us. Once all listening sessions have taken place, an overview of the sessions will be provided for all Service Providers.

Renewable Energy Equipment Grant Program updates

On January 8, 2014, the Renewable Energy Equipment Grant (REEG) Program launched for installations of solar air heat panels, outdoor wood/pellet boilers, and indoor wood/pellet stoves. With input gathered at a recent Minnesota Weatherization Advisor Group (MWAG) meeting, we are making slight modifications and offering clarification to improve on the program design:

  • Administrative allowance for any installation is increased from $250 to $400/installed project
  • An allowance for any site assessments and/or administration costs that do not result in an installed project is now allowed for up to $400 (a copy of the solar site assessment & justification of why not to proceed needs to be submitted for full payment)
  • Eligible dwellings still include those that have previously been weatherized OR those that have a Weatherization Service Agreement signed and are scheduled for weatherization.
  • Grants continue to be available on a first come, first serve basis with funding expiring June 30, 2015. Please contact Mark M. at weatherization.commerce@state.mn.us for more information.

CAZ and QCI Training and Testing Updates

There are five CAZ trainings scheduled:
April 14, 21, and 28 are filled
May 12 (spaces available)
May 13 (spaces available)


There are four more QCI classes scheduled:
May 5 – 9, and May 12 - 16 (filled)
June 2 - 6 (spaces available)
June 9 - 13 (spaces available)


Go to https://fdlcc.augusoft.net/ to register. In addition, notification of the QCI testing schedule is being sent to individual participants by Fond du Lac College via email.


OSHA training requirements—stipend offered for WAP contractors

One of the issues raised in a number of listening sessions addressed OSHA training requirements for DOE. We have followed up with our DOE Program Officer, Shawn Green, on this issue. Here is the guidance we have received from him:

“OSHA-10 is required for all WAP workers (crews or contractors). OSHA-30 is required for anyone that oversees a group of workers (i.e. crew leaders). Auditors do not oversee other workers, so they are not required to have the OSHA-30 training. Contractors that want to participate in the program must meet all of the same requirements that crews are subject to. If a particular contractor is a sole-proprietor that does all of the work him/herself and does not have any assistants, then they are not required to have the OSHA-30 training because again, they are not overseeing the safety of others.”

We are in ongoing conversations with DOE about the impact of this training requirement—and did share the suggestion that was made at one of the Listening Sessions for DOE-specific safety training instead of OSHA Training. We will update you on any changes that result from those new conversations. Until then, the guidance to follow can be found in WPN 11-6.

To support Service Providers in getting contractors trained, Commerce has reserved funds for Service Providers wishing to provide stipends for WAP contractors (up to $400/contractor). Funds will be available on a first-come, first-served basis through June 30, 2014. In addition, these stipends may be used for contractor training retroactive to July 1, 2013. In order to reserve funds, please send an email to: weatherization.commerce@state.mn.us, with the subject line: OSHA Contractor Stipend Request. Include the name of the contractor(s), stipend amount, and date of completion of OSHA training or scheduled date for completion.

Archiving

Service Providers may begin archiving all files that were last edited prior to July 1, 2012. Please follow the archiving instructions found on the Commerce website when archiving your files. Commerce asks that all Service Providers archive before the May upload. If you have questions regarding this process, please contact Eric B. at weatherization.commerce@state.mn.us

Material and labor splits on invoices 

Reminder: DOE requires that invoices show the split of costs for labor and material (10 CFR 440.18 440.19). This requirement covers all invoices for all work, including general Repairs. Please make sure that all invoices show this split.

SAVE the DATEs!

Fiscal, Administrative, and Field Training – August 5th & 7th, 2014

Commerce will offer a one-day MNCAP pre-conference workshop on August 5, 2014 in Duluth, Minn., for fiscal monitors and program coordinators. This training will provide updated information on current and anticipated funding, cash flow projecting, and tips for a successful administrative monitoring visit. As part of the MNCAP conference, on Thursday, August 7, Commerce will offer a full-day training for Field Staff. More details on both of these training opportunities will be sent out in future WAP Wires.

Baseload work and EAPWX Funds

This is a reminder that baseload measures cannot be paid with EAPWX funds. Please review the EAP Baseload Measures report sent to you monthly to verify that no baseload measures are paid with EAPWX funds. Any payments for baseload measures paid for with EAPWX funds must be moved to other funding sources.

Funding deadlines & PY 2014 State Plan Update

All DOE Carryover Funds expire June 30, 2014. Please notify Michelle G. if you will not be able to expend your allocation by June 30, 2014 at: weatherization.commerce@state.mn.us, so funds can be assigned to another Service Provider.

DOE 2013-2014 funds were fully awarded to Minnesota on March 27, 2014. Twenty-three Service Providers have fully executed contracts and NFAs to date. Commerce needs an anticipated carryover amount from each Service Provider in order to correctly anticipate carryover statewide for entry into the MN WAP State Plan. While the contract for this new grant ends on June 30, 2014, formula funds for 2013-2014 may be carried over, since it is the first year of a three-year formula grant period with DOE.

Commerce is now at work on the new State Plan for Program Year 2014 (DOE 2014-2015) Formula Grants. Minnesota has been allocated a total of $7.7 million in WAP funds that will be available on or after July 1, 2014 for a contract that will end June 30, 2015. The State Plan will be posted by May 12, 2014 with a Public Hearing scheduled for May 22, 2014. More details to come.

The two-year State of MN WX funding of $2 million expires June 30, 2015. Commerce recommends that 50% of MN WX funding is spent by June 30 of this year.

EAPWX Carryover funds that are now available were released to WAP on July 15, 2013 and must be expended by Service Providers before January 15, 2015.

Additional EAPWX funds are anticipated in May 2014.

Notice of Funds Available (NFA) clarification

Commerce has received some questions about the two NFAs recently sent out allocating DOE funds for PY 13 (noted as DOE 2013-2014 above). We apologize for any confusion these multiple NFAs have caused. The first NFA recognized the initial award of 25% of the funding received by DOE. The second NFA (received by those with executed contracts) subtracts the 25% of funds allocated on the first NFA and allocates 100% of the funds. Since both were signed on the same date, there has been some confusion about which NFA is to be used. Please use the NFAs with numbers starting with 765XX—these contain the correct allocation amounts. These funds are available for use once a fully executed contract is in place and an NFA has been received.

Lien waivers

Monitors continue to notice that invoices are being paid for work before a lien waiver was received. Lien waivers are required by Minnesota statute and must be completed and delivered to the Service Provider before payment can be made. Commerce attorneys have determined that all Weatherization Assistance Program work is subject to the Minnesota Lien Waiver Law. A link to the statute is below:

https://www.revisor.leg.state.mn.us/statutes/?id=514.011

Single email to support improved communication

In an effort to better track and be responsive to all correspondence from Service Providers, Commerce has set up one email address: weatherization.commerce@state.mn.us for all fiscal, field, and administrative requests. Please help us improve our communication with you by utilizing this email.

Thank you!

Again, thank you Service Providers for the work you do each and every day to provide low-income Minnesotans with more comfortable, healthy, and energy efficient homes through cost-effective weatherization measures.