Retiring state Sen. Frances Farley, D-Salt Lake, has sent a letter to Gov. Norm Bangerter praising his efforts to upgrade the quality of the Utah Public Service Commission and other utility regulating agencies.

"Early in your administration you recommended, and the Legislature approved, additional public utility technical analyst staff positions for the Public Service Commission, the Division of Public Utilities and the Committee of Consumer Services," the letter states. "Eventually these staff positions were filled by competent, professional public employees who give the state's regulatory agencies a more effective role in regulatory affairs."The letter also praises the appointment of Ted Stewart as commission chairman. "His chairmanship has enhanced the status of the commission in Utah, the Western region and nationally," the letter says.

Those moves together with passage of a Farley-sponsored bill that allows the commission to grant interim rate decreases and increases for utility companies have had significant impact on utility regulation.

In her letter, Farley cites the commission's decision to order a $10.7 million interim rate decrease for US WEST in June as a first for any regulatory body within US WEST's 14-state service territory.

"The regulatory process calls for striking a balance between company and ratepayer interest," the letter said. "It is gratifying to know that in our public service we have done something to help strike such a balance."

The letter concludes by encouraging Bangerter to continue providing adequate resources for the state's role in utility regulation.