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Western Price Survey

January 2, 2015
Winter Weather Bolsters Electricity and Gas Values

A wave of storms across the West sent temperatures plummeting, boosting demand across the region.

Peak demand on the Cal-ISO grid reached 30,897 MW Dec. 30, which may prove the week's high. Northwest Power Pool use was 63,977 MW the same day, while the Bonneville Power Administration recorded a 9,271 MW load that morning.

Some Northern California residents experienced power disruptions as the result of Dec. 30 windstorms. An estimated 336,000 Pacific Gas & Electric customers were affected by outages. By noon on Dec. 31, power had been restored to 96 percent of those customers, according to the utility. Transmission lines were not affected, according to PG&E.

A chilly weather system brought snow to portions of Southern California and Arizona on Dec. 31. The National Weather Service reported snow at 1,000 feet, including in Lake Havasu City.

Natural gas values rose, with Henry Hub gas spot values up 15 cents since Dec. 23 to trade Dec. 30 at $3.12/MMBtu. Western natural gas prices jumped even higher, with hubs gaining between 19 and 78 cents. Opal added 78 cents to end at $3.57 Dec. 30.

Working gas in storage reached 3,220 Bcf as of Dec. 26, according to U.S. Energy Information Administration estimates, a net decrease of 26 Bcf from the previous week. Storage levels are now 7.8 percent greater than a year ago and 2.5 percent less than the five-year average. There was no net change recorded for the Western region.

Traders will likely continue watching weather to determine whether natural gas withdrawals may be needed to meet power-generation needs.

Meanwhile, Western peak power prices fell in Dec. 26 to Dec. 31 trading, with hubs losing seven or eight dollars in the abbreviated trading period. California-Oregon Border led losers, dropping $8.15 to $30/MWh. By Dec. 31, average peak prices ranged from $27.20 at Mid-C to $30.90 at Palo Verde.

Off-peak prices moved higher during trading, with hubs adding between $3.55 and $5.15. Average off-peak prices Wednesday ranged from $24.85 at Mid-Columbia to $27.70 at Palo Verde.

What's ahead: Conditions in California are expected to moderate by Jan. 5; chilly but near-normal weather is forecast for much of the state. January may be warmer than normal across the West Coast to the Rockies, but in its 30-day outlook, the National Weather Service also says some portions of California may have above-average rainfall. The January forecast is uncertain, however, based on possible weather anomalies [Linda Dailey Paulson].

Archives of the Western Price Survey for the past year are also available online.

The Western Price Survey is excerpted from Energy NewsData's comprehensive regional news services. See for yourself how NewsData reporters put events in an accurate and meaningful context -- request a sample of either or both California Energy Markets and Clearing Up.

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Contact Chris Raphael, editor with questions regarding Price Survey Content.

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