Utah customers of Utah Power & Light Co. are benefiting from coal operations directed by PacifiCorp, UP&L's parent company.

A comprehensive report prepared for the Utah Division of Public Utilities by an independent consultant says PacifiCorp has achieved "major successes" in reducing its coal costs, an effort that benefits both customers and company stockholders.While the report gives PacifiCorp a pat on the back, it also contains some 53 separate recommendations intended to help the company even more. Many of those suggestions are already being implemented, a press release from the division says.

The Utah division joined its counterparts in California, Oregon, Idaho, Wyoming and Montana in developing the report. The joint effort is the first time utility regulators from seven states have participated in a combined effort to promote efficient utility regulation.

"The study is important because it gives Utah regulators an independent expert's view of the efficiency of the utility's coal operations," said David Buhler, Utah Department of Commerce executive director. "The cost of coal operations is directly linked to the cost of electricity for PacifiCorp's customers. This study indicates ratepayers may realize several million dollars in savings during the next few years."

The report recommendations relate to coal management and organization at PacifiCorp, coal contract administration and negotiation, coal supply strategy and planning for future coal contracts and production at company-owned mines.

PacifiCorp has managed to avoid "the worst mistakes which we have observed at some utilities," the report states.