Email questions 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, and I want to add a third for higher blends. I plan to replace current dispensers so that they’re compatible with higher blends, but the tank will be in addition to current tanks, not replacing either of them. Is the addition of the tank an eligible expense?
A: Yes, the addition of a tank that meets the eligibility requirements referenced in the Request for Proposals (RFP) is an eligible project component.
Q: If I request funding for new equipment certified as compatible with E25 or higher blends, is it allowable to utilize the new equipment for a product blend less than E25, such as E15?
A: Yes, if the applicant and equipment meet the eligibility requirements stated in the RFP, then the new equipment may be used for any blend for which it is certified. Proposed projects will be evaluated by multiple criteria, as referenced in the Project Evaluation Profile section of the RFP. As stated in 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: Please clarify the 10 site maximum for applicants. Can a business apply for up to 10 sites, with each request up to $199,000?
A: As stated in the RFP, an applicant must be a retail petroleum dispenser in Minnesota with no more than 10 retail petroleum dispensing sites regardless of their location. A business that owns more than 10 retail petroleum dispensing sites in total (regardless of how many are in Minnesota or in other states) is not eligible to apply. 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, and a separate application needs to be submitted for each site.
Q: Can grant funds be used for new stations to be built in 2022?
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: If a project is selected for a grant award, at what point does the grantee receive grant funds?
A: As stated in the RFP, grant funds are dispersed on a reimbursement basis (i.e., there are no cash advances). All grantee requests for reimbursement must correspond to the approved grant budget. To receive grant payments, grantees must provide 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 course of 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: Are competitive bids required, and if so, do applicants need to submit bids with their application?
A: As stated in the RFP, all funded applicants will be required to abide by the state’s bidding requirements. See a list of the state’s bidding requirements for details; we anticipate that most grantees will need to follow the Non-governmental/nonprofit organization tab. Please note that if specific contractors are named in the application, grantees will not need to undergo a formal bidding process. This can save you time and effort later. Applicants are not required to submit bids with their application materials.
Q: Can grant funds be used for biodiesel equipment?
A: No, biodiesel equipment is not eligible for this funding opportunity.
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: Are the costs of deconstruction/removal of existing pumps and islands, installation of new equipment and associated costs of new islands, piping/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/concrete over newly installed storage tanks/piping and physical coverings/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: 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 is not required. The application requests “a description of your current marketing efforts and explain the how you will market biofuels after completion of the project.” Please provide the requested description in the space provided and within the character limits.
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 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 FY22" and select the "Apply" button on the right to start a new application. Some of the information you provide will be the same across multiple applications, other information will be site-specific. Please make sure to use a different project name for each application, following the instructions.