California became the third state Wednesday to approve the planned merger of PacifiCorp and Utah Power & Light Co.

The California Public Utilities Commission completed its hearing on the merger Feb. 3. The commission's approval will be signed and released in about five days, PacifiCorp officials said in Portland, Ore.

"We are pleased and encouraged by the California approval," said David Bolender, president of Pacific Power, PacifiCorp's energy subsidiary. "The commission's action recognizes the benefits this merger will provide to both companies and their customers."

The merger would form a company with about $8 billion in assets and utility oparations that would serve 700,000 customers in seven Western states.

Idaho and Wyoming also have approved the merger, while decisions are pending in Oregon, Washington and Montana, and with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. The final regulatory commission hearing opens Monday before the Utah Public Service Commission in Salt Lake City.