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GAO surveyed electric utilities to determine the potential effects of the Powerplant and Industrial Fuel Use Act prohibitions on natural gas use in electric utility boilers starting in 1990. These provisions were designed to conserve natural gas for uses other than the generation of electricity, encourage the use of coal or alternative fuels in the place of natural gas, and ensure natural gas availability for high priority purposes. The utility industry has maintained strong opposition to the provisions because of: (1) the high costs of replacing natural gas-dependent utilities; (2) the fact that the utilities were already planning the replacement on an orderly basis; and (3) the fact that implementation of the provisions would increase dependence on imported oil.

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