On Friday, November 7th, the Ohio Air Quality Development Authority (OAQDA) held a bidders conference to launch the Advanced Energy/Job Stimulus Program.  The Job Stimulus package set aside $150 million (over three years) to increase the development, production and use of advanced energy technologies in the state.

Those interested can begin filing applications for either grants or loans through the web portal on OAQDA’s web page.  Unlike other competitive programs decisions will be made on a rolling basis, there is no deadline for filing applications.  However, $150 million is not a lot of funding for the types of projects involved, therefore it is likely available funds will dissipate quickly. 

The program has two separate pots of money:

  • $66 million for clean coal technology projects administered through OAQDA’s Ohio Coal Development Office (OCDO).  Grants can be for up to $5 million for each project  The funding set aside for these projects is similar to other funding opportunities that have been provided by the OCDO.  Proposals will be reviewed by staff, outside reviewers and the Technical Advisory Committee and approved by OAQDA;
  • $84 million for renewable energy and energy efficiency projects. Grants will be awarded in amounts from $50,000 to $250,000.  Loans will be $1 million to $2 million.  Funding will be in three $28 million annual appropriations administered by OAQDA. Projects will be reviewed by staff and outside reviewers, the Development Finance Advisory Council, approved by OAQDA.  Before funding can be awarded Legislative approval is necessary through the Controlling Board.

Some of the tips provided to bidders during the conference include:

  1. "Tipping Point"-  Explain why a grant award or loan would be the tipping point in the project.  Would it help get the project through a difficult time?  Would funding allow some type of breakthrough? Would it lead to a possible major expansion in Ohio?
  2. Jobs, Jobs, Jobs-  The main point of the funding is to stimulate job growth in the Ohio.  Therefore, you must be prepared to demonstrate that the project will generate jobs immediately.  New jobs will be favored over retained jobs.  Better if the are considered "foundational jobs"- meaning the project will lead to more jobs in the future.  Also, want to see better paying jobs.  
  3. Leverage- The State wants to see that a grant award will other funding in the project.  Private funding is favored over other public financing.  The higher the leverage the better the application will be viewed. 

Applications can be made through the web portal.  To start the process applicants must only fill out a "letter of intent" which requires only minimal information.  OAQDA said at the bidders conference it is there goal to weed out unfundable projects early in the process. 

One other note, if you are going to pursue a coal grant, be advised that similiar with other funding through the OCDO, you will be required to sign a royalty/payment agreement.  OCDO is required by statute to seek a recovery for investing in research and development projects.  While I understand it is in the statute,  this requirement discourages businesses looking for funding that will accelerate commercial deployment of a proven technology. 

 (Photo: Great Valley Center Image Bank/everystockphoto.com)