The specter of the 2001 energy crisis still looms over California, as proposed fees threaten to discourage the growth of the state’s renewable energy and distributed generation industries. The California Public Utility Commission will soon vote on a proposal that would impose fees on thousands of California businesses and homes that have installed on-site energy generation equipment.

The proposed “exit fees” would raise the cost of energy for those who own distributed generation equipment by assessing a levy for each kilowatt-hour of electricity they produce. All California residents are paying increased prices to diffuse the cost of energy during the power shortage in 2001, but the new fees would effectively penalize a second time those who produce their own energy.

Users of distributed generation technologies argue they’re helping to reduce strain on the grid, and therefore shouldn’t be forced to pay more than those who get their energy exclusively from power companies. The amount of the fees isn’t yet known, but some estimates predict an increase by 2.6 cents per kilowatt-hour.

Distributed generation accounts for some 2,000MW of the 50,000MW of energy produced in California.