What is a Qualified Contractor?
In our last article, we explained how the Clean Energy Improvement Program, or CEIP, is a government-enabled energy efficiency and renewable energy financing program for residential and commercial property owners. The Program is administered by the Alberta Municipal Services Corporation and participating municipalities opt in through the passing of a CEIP bylaw.
An important element of CEIP is that all contractors performing services relating to the installation of a CEIP-eligible upgrade must be Qualified Contractors.
What is a Qualified Contractor?
All contractors – this could be an insulation or window installer, solar or renewable energy installer or energy auditor – are required to onboard to the program to become “Qualified Contractors” and be listed on the program website before starting any CEIP related services. This also includes subcontractors outsourced by a primary contractor.
Does a property owner need to use a Qualified Contractor?
Short answer: Yes.
Under Alberta’s Clean Energy Improvements Regulation, property owners must use a CEIP Qualified Contractor for the installation of CEIP eligible upgrades. Do-it-yourself projects are not eligible.
If there is a contractor you would like to work with, but they are not listed on the Contractor Directory (coming soon), have them review the Qualified Contractor webpage and complete an Application Form. Once approved, contractors begin a streamlined onboarding process. Once onboarded and listed on the Qualified Contractor Directory, a property owner can include them on their CEIP Project Application for the installation of eligible upgrades.
What does onboarding involve?
Under the Clean Energy Improvements provincial legislation, the program administrator (AMSC) must publish on the program website the CEIP Qualified Contractor Terms and Conditions, Code of Conduct and Issue Escalation Framework, and Marketing Guidelines. Contractors onboarding to the program must review and agree to all three documents. Contractors must also complete program training by viewing a video detailing how the program functions and completing a quiz on the content of the training video. Onboarding ensures contractors are familiar with program details, so when interacting with property owners and they are aware of their obligations as Qualified Contractors.
Once contractors have passed the onboarding training quiz, contractor applicants become Qualified Contractors and are listed on the Qualified Contractor Directory on myCEIP.ca. The onboarding process can take five to ten business days depending on if additional information is required to process the application.
Consumer Protection Measures
The Clean Energy Improvement Program was designed to protect consumers as is prescribed in the Municipal Government Act and the Clean Energy Improvements Regulation. As previously above, all contractors providing services related to the installation of a clean energy improvement must be Qualified Contractors.
Qualified Contractors must provide project quotes and supporting documents for each upgrade. In addition, only the property owner has access to, and is responsible for submitting the Project Application Form. The form lays out the scope of the project, including eligible upgrades and work the property owner would like financed through the program. This ensures the property owner is fully aware and in control of the project scope, and prevents the contractor from acting in bad faith when filling out a project application. The Application Form is only made available to the property owner via email once pre-qualification is complete.
To ensure that contractors working on the property are properly insured, Qualified Contractors are required to provide proof of commercial general liability insurance and WCB-Alberta coverage to AMSC before starting their first project, and when coverage expires or after one year, the lesser of the two.
Additional due diligence requires that once a CEIP project is installed, contractors must provide final invoices, and the project may be subject to a site visit by AMSC prior to Qualified Contractor payment. AMSC pays the Qualified Contractor with CEIP-earmarked municipal funds once a project is installed and supporting documentation is verified by AMSC.
The CEIP Qualified Contractor Marketing Guidelines prohibit practices that may mislead or otherwise harm the property owner participating in the program such as making misleading claims about energy savings or stating that the program is free.
The CEIP Code of Conduct and Issue Escalation Framework includes language on ensuring the safety and welfare of individuals on-site, appropriate and respectful interactions with property owners and the requirement of contractors to have proper licensing and qualifications to perform the work related to the installation of clean energy improvement projects. Failure to comply with the Code of Conduct can result in Qualified Contractor removal from the program.
In our next article, we’ll discuss the upgrades eligible for CEIP financing and provide resources describing some of the less common upgrades.
Watch for program updates from the Town of Devon, Town of Rocky Mountain House, and the City of Edmonton in the coming weeks.