California Public Utilities Commission Sets Fourth and Fifth Solicitations for the Renewable Auction Mechanism Program

On May 9, 2013, the California Public Utilities Commission adopted Resolution E-4582, scheduling the fourth Renewable Auction Mechanism (RAM) auction to close on June 28, 2013 and setting a fifth RAM auction for no later than June 27, 2014. The RAM program allows renewable energy developers to bid their 3 MW to 20 MW projects to California’s three largest utilities – PG&E, SCE, and SDG&E – for a standard contract. The final Resolution did not differ substantively from the Commission’s draft Resolution, issued in early April 2013 and detailed in a previous blog post.  Advice letters filed today with the CPUC provide the utilities' procurement targets for the fourth RAM auction.  SCE will solicit projects totaling 181 MW, PG&E is seeking a total of 82 MW, and SDG&E is looking to procure 47 MW in total.  The advice letters also breakdown the utilities' total procurement goals into the capacity sought in each of the three RAM product categories - baseload, peaking as-available, and non-peaking as-available.

Various parties commented on draft Resolution E-4582, attempting to influence the Commission's direction with the RAM program.  Commenting on the draft Resolution, the Division of Ratepayer Advocates requested that the fourth and fifth auctions be delayed so that RAM projects from these auctions would come online during the utilities’ third RPS compliance period (2017-2020). In their comments, Recurrent Energy, the Solar Energy Industries Association, and the Large Scale Solar Association proposed that the Commission hold the fifth RAM auction within six months of the fourth auction, rather than up to a year after the fourth auction, and hold three subsequent auctions on an annual basis thereafter. They did not propose an increase in the total capacity of the RAM program; the three additional auctions would solicit capacity to replace any previously executed contracts that fail or are terminated. The Commission did not amend the draft Resolution to incorporate these recommendations.

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