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Incentives/Policies for Renewables & Efficiency

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Renewable Auction Mechanism (RAM)   

Last DSIRE Review: 02/14/2014
Program Overview:
State: California
Incentive Type: Other Incentive
Eligible Renewable/Other Technologies: Solar Thermal Electric, Photovoltaics, Landfill Gas, Wind, Biomass, Geothermal Electric, Municipal Solid Waste, Anaerobic Digestion, Small Hydroelectric, Tidal Energy, Wave Energy, Ocean Thermal, Biodiesel, Fuel Cells using Renewable Fuels
Applicable Sectors: Commercial, Industrial
Web Site:
Authority 1:
Date Enacted:
CPUC Decision 10-12-048
Authority 2:
Date Enacted:
CPUC Resolution 4414
Authority 3:
Date Enacted:
Date Effective:
CPUC Resolution E-4489
Authority 4:
Date Enacted:
CPUC Resolution E-4546
Authority 5:
Date Enacted:
CPUC Resolution E-4582

Note: This program was originally planned to have four auctions. CPUC Resolution E-4582 authorized a fifth auction to closeout remaining capacity allocations for each of the utilities. The fifth auction is expected to close by June 27, 2014.

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
 Southern California Edison  723.4 MW
  Pacific Gas and Electric 420.9 MW
 San Diego Gas and Electric  154.7 MW

25% of each utility's total allocation will be offered in each auction. 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. Any capacity remaining at the end of the auction period will be added to the next 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.  

* 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.

  Shannon O'Rourke
California Public Utilities Commission
505 Van Ness Avenue
San Francisco, CA 94102
Phone: (415) 703-5574
E-Mail: shannon.o'
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Disclaimer: The information presented on the DSIRE web site provides an unofficial overview of financial incentives and other policies. It does not constitute professional tax advice or other professional financial guidance, and it should not be used as the only source of information when making purchasing decisions, investment decisions or tax decisions, or when executing other binding agreements. Please refer to the individual contact provided below each summary to verify that a specific financial incentive or other policy applies to your project.

While the DSIRE staff strives to provide the best information possible, the DSIRE staff, the N.C. Solar Center, N.C. State University and the Interstate Renewable Energy Council, Inc. make no representations or warranties, either express or implied, concerning the accuracy, completeness, reliability or suitability of the information. The DSIRE staff, the N.C. Solar Center, N.C. State University and the Interstate Renewable Energy Council, Inc. disclaim all liability of any kind arising out of your use or misuse of the information contained or referenced on DSIRE Web pages.

Copyright 2014 - 2015 North Carolina State University, under NREL Subcontract No. XEU-0-99515-01. Permission granted only for personal or educational use, or for use by or on behalf of the U.S. government. North Carolina State University prohibits the unauthorized display, reproduction, sale, and/or distribution of all or portions of the content of the Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency (DSIRE) without prior, written consent.