Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter announced the appointment.
Kempton still must be confirmed by the Idaho Senate. If confirmed, he'll replace Paul Kjellander, who was appointed last week to lead the governor's new Office of Energy Resources.
The three-member Idaho Public Utilities Commission is responsible for helping regulate gas, water, electricity or telephone utility rates, billing, service quality and safety. The commission also oversees Idaho railroad safety.