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Plan would direct CA climate funds to ratepayers

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- California regulators have released a plan to direct billions of dollars collected from the state's new carbon marketplace back to utility ratepayers to help offset higher electricity rates.

The California Public Utilities Commission on Friday issued a draft of the plan that would return between $5.7 billion to $22.6 billion to small businesses and residential utility customers between 2013 and 2020.

A final vote on the plan is scheduled for Dec. 20.

The state this week conducted its first auction of greenhouse gas permits for a cap-and-trade program meant to limit emissions of heat-trapping gases from industrial sources.

The state is mandating a portion of the proceeds be returned to businesses and residential ratepayers to help fund energy efficiency and clean technology projects that will reduce energy consumption and emissions.

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