The Utah Public Service Commission on Friday gave its blessing to MidAmerican Energy Holdings Co.'s $9.4 billion purchase of PacifiCorp, which operates in Utah as Utah Power.

In its order, the PSC said the deal will provide PacifiCorp customers in a six-state region tangible benefits totaling $16 million to $36 million over the next five years from reductions in corporate overhead costs and long-term debt costs.

"Since Utah constitutes approximately 40 percent of the utility operations of PacifiCorp," the order said, "the tangible benefits to Utah are approximately $1 million to $3 million per year over the next five years."

The MidAmerican agreement includes 78 commitments, of which 28 are specific to Utah. One is a promise by MidAmerican to increase PacifiCorp's corporate presence in Salt Lake City. The utility is headquartered in Portland, Ore.

The agreement also delays by 45 days the implementation of a 2006 scheduled electricity rate hike, provides for a working group to study a clean-coal power plant to be built in Utah and proposes a $196 million transmission upgrade from Mona into the Wasatch Front.

The most significant intangible benefit, the order said, was MidAmerican's willingness to own an electric utility and provide long-term capital investments "necessary to continue to provide utility service in the future, a level of funding ScottishPower no longer wishes to undertake," referring to PacifiCorp's parent company.

"We find the tangible benefits articulated by the parties in this case do provide net positive benefits to Utah customers, and are sufficient to meet our standard for approval of the transaction," the order said.

Iowa-based MidAmerican is 83 percent owned by billionaire Warren Buffett through his company, Berkshire Hathaway.


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