Renewable Auction Mechanism (RAM)

November 18, 2022


Note: This program completed its sixth and final mandated auction in 2015. CPUC Decision 14-11-042  allows the utilities to continue using RAM as a mechanism for meeting a portion of their RPS requirements. Future RAM solicitations will be issued at the discretion of the utilities. Some of the parameters put in place by the CPUC will be lifted, but the essence of the RAM program will remain. Namely, utilities will select projects based on lowest price, and selected projects will be granted standard non-negotiable contracts. See the utility websites below for more information. 

The Renewable Auction Mechanism (RAM) was approved by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) in December 2010 with a goal of installing 1,500 megawatts (MW) of new distributed generation. RAM was 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 was originally scheduled to occur twice annually for each of the three investor-owned utilities in the state. Each utility was responsible for procuring their proportionate share of the 1,500 MW total based on their relative electricity sales. 

Each bid is 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 was added to the next auction. Winning bids are given a standard contract from the utility. The CPUC can then approve executed contracts through a Tier 2 advice letter.  

The sixth and final RAM auction closed in August 2015. The utilities are no longer required to conduct new RAM auctions, but are authorized to voluntarily use the mechanism to meet their general renewable energy procurement targets. 

See the following links for more information about the utilities' renewable energy procurement options:

* CPUC Decision 14-11-042 lifted the size restrictions (3 MW - 20 MW) for future utility-developed RAM solicitations. For future solicitations, the utilities may establish project size requirements based on their specific procurement needs at the time of the solicitation.  

Program Overview

Implementing Sector: State
Category: Financial Incentive
State: California
Incentive Type: Other Incentive
Web Site:
Administrator: CPUC
Start Date:
Eligible Renewable/Other Technologies:
  • Geothermal Electric
  • Solar Thermal Electric
  • Solar Photovoltaics
  • Wind (All)
  • Biomass
  • Municipal Solid Waste
  • Landfill Gas
  • Tidal
  • Wave
  • Ocean Thermal
  • Hydroelectric (Small)
  • Anaerobic Digestion
  • Fuel Cells using Renewable Fuels


Name: CPUC Decision 10-12-048
Date Enacted: 12/16/2010
Name: CPUC Resolution 4414
Date Enacted: 8/18/2011
Name: CPUC Resolution E-4489
Date Enacted: 4/19/2012
Effective Date: 4/19/2012
Name: CPUC Resolution E-4546
Date Enacted: 11/13/2012
Name: CPUC Resolution E-4582
Date Enacted: 05/13/2013
Name: CPUC Decision 14-11-042
Date Enacted: 11/20/2014


Name: Megha Lakhchaura

This information is sourced from DSIRE; the most comprehensive source of information on incentives and policies that support renewables and energy efficiency in the United States. Established in 1995, DSIRE is operated by the N.C. Clean Energy Technology Center at N.C. State University.