If you have questions that are not addressed here, email them to MDA.AGRIGrants@state.mn.us with “AGRI Biofuels Infrastructure Grant” in the subject line. We will post all questions and answers on this page.
Q: My station currently has two underground storage tanks. I plan to add an additional tank for this project but am not replacing either of my current tanks. Is the addition of the tank an eligible expense?
A: Yes, the addition of a tank that meets the eligibility requirements referenced in the RFP is an eligible project.
Q: If I request funding for new equipment certified as compatible with E25 or higher blends, is it allowable to use the new equipment for other products as well?
A: Yes, if the applicant and equipment meet the eligibility requirements, then the new equipment may be used for any blend for which it is certified. Proposed projects will be evaluated by multiple criteria, as listed in the "Project Evaluation Profile" section of the RFP. Using the Project Goals and Outcomes of the scoring rubric, reviewers will consider the extent to which a proposed project will increase access to and sales of motor fuel blends containing at least 15% ethanol.
Q: Can grant funds be used to modify an existing pump dispensing E85 or other flex fuel blends (e.g., E30 or E50) so that it can also dispense E15?
A: Yes, any modifications necessary to allow the sale of E15 from existing flex fuel pumps (e.g., E30, E50, E85, etc.) using components that are certified for E25 or greater are eligible.
Q: Can grant funds be used for biodiesel equipment?
A: No, biodiesel equipment is not eligible for this funding opportunity.
Q: Are the costs of deconstruction or removal of existing pumps and islands, installation of new equipment and associated costs of new islands, piping or connections to tanks, electrical, concrete, and related software required for operation considered eligible expenses?
A: Yes, costs for the items referenced above are eligible expenses, provided they are components necessary for installing and operating equipment certified for E25 and not related to environmental remediation. You may explain why such components are necessary in the budget narrative section of the application.
Q: Are the costs associated with the re-installation of pavement or concrete over newly installed storage tanks and piping and of physical coverings and awnings over the new islands considered eligible expenses?
A: Yes, costs for the items referenced above are eligible expenses, provided they are components necessary for operating equipment certified for E25. You may explain why such components are necessary in the budget narrative section of the application. Expenses not directly related to the new equipment are ineligible (e.g., paving beyond immediate vicinity of new equipment, signage on awnings, etc.)
Q: Can we include a new price LED sign in the proposal?
A: No, the LED sign is not an eligible expense.
Q: Can a business apply for up to 10 sites, with each request up to $199,000?
A: A business that owns 10 or fewer retail petroleum dispensing sites can apply for up to $199,000 in funding for each site in Minnesota within the parameters of the RFP. A separate application needs to be submitted for each site.
Q: Can grant funds be used to build new stations?
A: No, to be eligible for funding, a retail service station must be in operation and dispensing fuel at the time of application and meet all other eligibility criteria referenced in the RFP. Stations under construction, or planned for construction, and not yet dispensing fuel, are not eligible for this funding opportunity.
Q: Are competitive bids required, and if so, do applicants need to submit bids with their application?
A: All funded applicants need to follow the state’s bidding requirements. We expect that most grantees will need to follow the "Non-governmental/nonprofit organization" guidelines. Note that if specific contractors are named in the application, you won't need to undergo a formal bidding process, which can save you time and effort later. However, you're not required to submit bids with your application materials.
Q: We have a general contractor that will hire subcontractors. Is naming the general contractor sufficient to not have to undergo the formal building process?
A: Yes, naming the general contractor is sufficient if you are paying them and not the subcontractors for their services.
Q: What should be included in the business plan?
A: For guidance on components typically included in a business plan and other resources regarding business plans, please refer to the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development's Business Plan Overview. If your business includes multiple divisions and service lines unrelated to the retail sale of fuel, you may include just those portions of your business plan relevant to the grant request.
Q: Do I need to provide a formal marketing plan?
A: No, a formal marketing plan isn't required. The application requests “a description of your current marketing efforts and explain the how you will market biofuels after completion of the project.” You can use the space provided to describe your current and future marketing plans.
Q: If my business owns multiple retail petroleum dispensing sites (10 or fewer), how do I submit separate applications for those sites that are eligible for funding?
A: After creating your account in the online application system (see the Online Grant Application Guide (PDF) for instructions), complete an application for each site. From the Applicant Dashboard, select the “Apply” button in the upper left to get to the listing of grant opportunities. Find the correct grant opportunity, "AGRI Biofuels Infrastructure Grant FY24," and select the "Apply" button on the right to start a new application. Some of the information will be the same across multiple applications, other information will be site-specific. Be sure to use a different project name for each application.
Q: Since we are trying to obtain support from two funding sources, the scope of our project is bigger than just the amount allowed by MDA. Should we include the entire scope of the proposed project in the MDA proposal or only plans and costs associated with the MDA proposal?
A: We recommend sharing the entire scope of the proposed project but focusing the application on the MDA proposal and ensuring that the review committee can clearly understand what would be funded from the MDA grant. Please separate the MDA component (including the 35% match) in your budget table.
Q: Can funds from the USDA Higher Blends Infrastructure Incentive Program (HBIIP) be used as match for the MDA grant? If yes, can it be used to cover the full 35% required? Would those ineligible costs, such as biodiesel equipment, be allowed as part of the match?
A: USDA funds can be used for some or all of match if the costs are also eligible under the MDA’s program. For example, biodiesel equipment is not eligible under the MDA grant, so it cannot be counted towards the 35% match requirement.
Q: Can we use the USDA proposed grant as match for the MDA grant, and if so, what documentation is needed? If we are unsuccessful in obtaining the USDA funding, the project as planned would no longer be financially feasible. Would we be able to withdraw from the MDA grant?
A: Yes, the USDA funds could still be used as match. You should clearly indicate in your application that you anticipate applying for these funds, pending an approval of the MDA grant. If you are not successful in receiving a USDA grant, you could withdraw from the MDA grant.
Q: If a project is selected for a grant award, at what point does the grantee receive grant funds?
A: Grant funds are dispersed on a reimbursement basis (i.e., there are no cash advances). All requests for reimbursement must correspond to the approved grant budget. Grantees must show proof that grant project work has been done by submitting details of each purchase on receipts or invoices, and proof that the vendors have been paid. Grantees may make multiple requests for reimbursement (within reason) during the project. We will hold back the final 10% of each grant award until the upgraded equipment is in operation and other requirements in the RFP and grant contract agreement are fulfilled.
Q: If my grant proposal is approved and later I determine that I cannot complete the project, can I turn down the funds?
A: Yes, applicants may turn down a grant award if they are selected for funding. If a selected applicant chooses to not accept an award, we’d like for them to do so in a timely manner so those funds can be made available to another applicant.
Q: The entire project is larger than the specific portion that may be covered by the MDA grant and the project period for the USDA grant may run longer than that of the MDA grant. Would it be permissible if all allowable expenses are billed on schedule within three years for the MDA grant but the final completion of the work occurs after the MDA grant ends?
A: All work that is covered under the MDA grant must be purchased and paid for by the end of the grant award period. The equipment must dispense E15 before we will make the final payment. The final payment can be made up to one year after the expiration of the grant agreement.