Renewable Auction Mechanism (RAM) (California)

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Last modified on February 12, 2015.

Financial Incentive Program

Place California

Name Renewable Auction Mechanism (RAM) (California)
Incentive Type Other Incentive
Applicable Sector Commercial, Industrial
Eligible Technologies Anaerobic Digestion, Biomass, Fuel Cells using Renewable Fuels, Geothermal Electric, Landfill Gas, Municipal Solid Waste, Ocean Thermal, Photovoltaics, Small Hydroelectric, Solar Thermal Electric, Tidal Energy, Wave Energy, Wind
Active Incentive Yes

Implementing Sector State/Territory
Energy Category Renewable Energy Incentive Programs

Program Administrator CPUC

Last DSIRE Review 2012-09-28
Last Substantive Modification
to Summary by DSIRE

Incentive Source


The Renewable Auction Mechanism (RAM), approved by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) in December 2010, is expected to result in 1,299 megawatts (MW) of new distributed generation over the course of two years. RAM is designed to streamline the procurement process for distributed generation projects between 3 MW and 20 MW* in capacity while ensuring the lowest costs for ratepayers.

The RAM is a reverse auction which will occur twice annually for each of the three investor-owned utilities in the state. Each utility is responsible for procuring their proportionate share of the 1,299 MW total based on their relative electricity sales. Each of the proportions will be subdivided equally across the four auctions to be held by each utility as demonstrated by the table below.

Utility Total Procurement Requirement
Procurement per Auction
Southern California Edison  723.4 MW  170.8 MW
 Pacific Gas and Electric 420.9 MW  105.2 MW
San Diego Gas and Electric  80.7 MW  20.2 MW

Each bid will be screened by the utility for viability and then selected based on price, starting with the least cost project, until the utility reaches their MW limit for that auction. Winning bids will be given a standard contract from the utility. The CPUC can then approve executed contracts through a Tier 2 advice letter. The third RAM auction closed on December 21, 2012.

  • In May 2012 the CPUC adopted changes to the statewide feed-in tariff (FIT) program. Among other changes, the Decision increased the system capacity limit for the FIT to 3 megawatts (MW), and provided a pricing mechanism derived from the contract prices awarded to participants in the RAM program. To prevent gaming between the two programs, the Decision stipulated that systems with a nameplate rating of 3 MW or smaller that meet other eligibility requirements for the FIT are prohibited from participating in the RAM program. Instead, these systems may only participate in the FIT.

Incentive Contact

Contact Name Shannon O'Rourke
Department California Public Utilities Commission

Address 505 Van Ness Avenue

Place San Francisco, California
Zip/Postal Code 94102
Phone (415) 703-5574

Email shannon.o'


Authorities (Please contact the if there are any file problems.)

Authority 1: CPUC Decision 10-12-048

Date Enacted 2010-12-16

Authority 2: CPUC Resolution 4414

Date Enacted 2011-08-18

Authority 3: CPUC Resolution E-4489
Date Effective 2012-04-19
Date Enacted 2012-04-19

Authority 4: CPUC Resolution E-4546
Date Effective 2012-11-13
Date Enacted 2012-11-13

  • Incentive and policy data are reviewed and approved by the N.C. Solar Center's DSIRE project staff.[1]


  1.  "Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency (DSIRE)"