While most of us were dreaming of winter vacations, the OPA announced changes to the Aboriginal Renewable Energy Fund (“AREF”) on December 19, 2014 to make interim funding available to First Nations and Métis communities for due diligence work required to assess and develop opportunities for participation in the Large Renewable Procurement (“LRP”) program.

The latest program rules, guidelines and other materials have been posted and can be found here.

Under this program, First Nation or Métis communities can obtain funding via (a) The Organizational Development Stream – for independent legal costs of developing the corporate structure that will own a renewable energy project, (b) The Partnership Stream – to obtain professional third-party advice to assess the feasibility of a proposed partnership, or (c) The Development and Approvals Stream – for soft costs associated with developing a renewable energy project and obtaining the requisite regulatory approvals (currently limited to FIT projects only, although we suspect further amendments if and when LRP I Contracts are awarded).

Eligible projects must (1) be located in Ontario, (2) be subject to a FIT Contract, Green Energy Investment Agreement (“GEIA”) PPA, or Large Renewable Procurement I Contract, (3) have a capacity greater than 10kW, (4) have an Aboriginal Participation Level of at least 15% (or 10% for a GEIA PPA), (5) be capable of constituting a renewable generating facility (utilizing biomass, biogas, landfill gas, wind, solar (PV) or water power), and (6) be supported by a Supporting Resolution of the Aboriginal Community.

Available Funding:

Organizational Development and Partnership Stream funds are available for 80% of actual eligible costs up to a maximum of $40,000 for applicants pursuing three or more FIT projects.

Funding available to Aboriginal Communities is limited based on the number of FIT projects they are pursuing: three or more projects are capped at $40,000; two projects are capped at $30,000; one project is capped at $20,000.

Organizational Development and Partnership Stream funds are available for 80% of actual eligible costs up to a maximum of $40,000 for applicants pursuing LRP projects. Applicants may not receive more than $40,000 with respect to the Organizational Development and Partnership Stream for LRP projects.

Development and Approvals Stream funds are available for 50% of actual eligible costs up to a maximum of: projects 10 kW up to and including 500 kW in size are capped at $100,000; projects greater than 500 kW in size are capped at $500,000.

Applicants may not receive more than five successful Development and Approvals Stream Funding Agreements for projects that are 10 kW and up to and including 500 kW in size.  Projects greater than 500 kW are eligible for up to the maximum funding amount, less any funding previously received under the AREF Program.

See the program materials posted on the IESO website linked above for more details.