PacifiCorp, the parent company of Utah Power, wants to get out of the electricity business in California and Montana.

The company announced Thursday that it is considering selling its small service areas in the two states, which account for about 5.5 percent of PacifiCorp's 1.4 million North American customers.Utah Power spokesman David Es-kel-sen said any sale would have little effect, if any, on the company's Utah customers.

A company press release said it has 41,262 California customers, or about 0.3 percent of the state's total customer base, and about 34,528 Montana customers, or about 7 percent of that state's total.

PacifiCorp spokeswoman Anita Marks said any sale probably would have only "subtle, positive" effects on customers in the company's five other states.

"As we are seeing deregulation plans take hold at the state levels, people are pretty much going with their own homegrown and unique plans in each state," Marks said Thursday. "These are two states where we have a small percentage of customers, . . . but we're still dealing with regulators in those states. So we need to devote resources to that.

"It's just reached a point for us where we think that is having an unfair effect on the rest of the service areas, where we have much higher customer concentrations."

She said California and Montana also account for about 5 percent of PacifiCorp's revenues, but the decision to attempt a sale was not driven by money issues.

"It's more a question of attention and our ability to deal effectively with our assets," Marks said. "If you have seven children to keep track of, or five, which is easier?"

In California, PacifiCorp serves the far northern part of the state, including the communities of Crescent City, Yreka, Mt. Shasta, Weed, Dunsmuir, Fort Jones, Alturas, Dorris and Tulelake. In Montana, it serves in and around Kalispell, Whitefish, Columbia Falls, Bigfork and Libby.

PacifiCorp chief executive Fred Buckman said the customer bases in the two states could appeal to several buyers.

"These are sound service areas which would represent a real added value for a number of potential purchasers," he said. "However, we believe these are valuable properties, and if we do not receive credible offers, we will continue our ownership."

Marks would not comment on what would constitute a "credible offer."

The company plans to start accepting bids this summer. If a sale develops, any transaction should be finished by the end of the year.