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Sales were up, profits down, for utilities in '79

Revenues, kilowatt sales, and total net income available for dividends rose to new highs for investor-owned electric utilities in 1979. But the industry registered a smaller than normal increase in percentage of profits, according to a survey by Electric Light & Power magazine.

The survey of the top 100 investor-owned electric utilities reported gains of 13.4 percent for u979 to $80.8 billion, and while the rate was higher than the 11.7 percent of a year earlier, the 1978 gain in revenues had been the lowest since 1970. Kilowatt-hour sales grew 2.9 percent, down from the 4.3 prcent increase in 1978 and far below the utilities' all-time sales growth record -- 7 percent-plus.

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For only the second time in the 15 years that the magazine has been reporting annual results, residential use fell in 1979, by 1.2 percent.

As in the past, the companies reporting the highest average residential use were in the Pacific Northwest, where low-cost hydro power has kept rates low and fostered all-electric living, and in the Southwest, where the excessive heat and humidity make electric meters spin during the long summers.

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