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Utilities slash outplay plans

The nation's investor-owned electric and gas utilities sharply cut back on their capital appropriations in the third quarter of 1980, following record appropriations in the second quarter, the Conference Board reported.

The utilities appropriated $8.5 billion (seasonally adjusted) for new plant and equipment in the third quarter, compared with a record $26.9 billion in the second quarter. The electric utilities, which accounted for all of the second-quarter jump, also accounted for all of the decline in the third quarter.

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The high cost of bond financing, the difficulty of raising customer rates to recoup these costs, and utilities' continuing emphasis on conservation have been key factors in curbing electric utility appropriations.

(Capital appropriations are authorizations to spend money in the future.)

Despite the weak third quarter, appropriations in the first nine months of 1980 were up 32 percent over the same period in 1975, the previous record year.

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