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Western Price Survey

January 5, 2007
Power Prices Stay Modest Despite California Storm Impacts

High winds knocked out power to thousands of Pacific Gas & Electric customers in San Francisco on the heels of last week's storm that left 640,000 of the utility's ratepayers without power. On Friday morning, several thousand customers of Southern California Edison and the Los Angeles Department of Water & Power were also reportedly without power for a short time, as high winds raced through the region and downed distribution lines.

Despite the intermittent storms, power values kept mostly steady this week on seasonal temperatures and mild electricity demand, and followed a predictable curve, with higher values coming for Monday deliveries.

California-Oregon border peak power was at 55 mills/kWh on Monday and dropped to 50 mills/kWh for most of the week, gaining only a few mills in Friday trading. Off-peak power, at around 51 mills/kWh Monday, dropped to around 40 mills/kWh most of the week before rising to 46 mills/kWh in Friday trading.

Daytime power at Mid-Columbia was between 51 mills and 54 mills/kWh Monday, but dropped to about 48 mills/kWh for the rest of the week. Nighttime power was priced at 51 mills/kWh Monday, fell to between 36 mills and 46 mills/kWh midweek, and finished in Friday trading at around 44 mills/kWh.

With the exception of higher values for Monday, Jan. 1 delivery, North of Path 15 peak power generally traded between 50 mills and 55 mills/kWh for the week. Off-peak power gained ground, trading at 38 mills/kWh Wednesday, 42 mills/kWh Thursday, and approximately 47 mills/kWh on Friday. Prices for South of Path 15 power generally followed the NP15 trajectory, plus or minus a mill here and there.

Palo Verde peak power started the week at 49 mills/kWh, lost a few mills midweek, and finished in Friday trading at around 50 mills/kWh. Nighttime power was at about 40 mills/kWh Monday, dropped to 33 mills/kWh Tuesday, then raced a bit above 40 mills/kWh in Friday trading.

Power-plant outages were few this week. The 1,080 MW Unit No. 3 of the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station ramped back up to full capacity this week after undergoing repairs. The 525 MW Unit No. 4 of the Mountainview power plant, however, suffered an unplanned outage beginning Wednesday. The 933 MW Hyatt-Thermalito Pump also went on an outage Wednesday, and was curtailed by 278 MW on Thursday.

Finally, a gloomy prediction for the coming year: although the heat wave that caused blackouts in July 2006 was billed as an unprecedented event, British climate scientists have predicted that 2007 will be the hottest year on record, owing to greenhouse gases and El Niño [Chris Raphael].

Natural Gas Gains Early Ground But Then Falls on Warmer Weather

Natural gas values started the week at a low point, but gained some ground in the West as wind and rained smacked the region. A storage withdrawal the previous week did not impact prices much, but a balmy weather forecast for the coastal California weekend did manage to send prices down.

On Thursday, the U.S. Energy Information Administration reported a storage withdrawal of 47 Bcf in the Lower 48 states. The West withdrew 9 Bcf, and Eastern states took out 33 Bcf.

Permian Basin gas traded from $5.15 to $5.41/MMBtu on Dec. 29, and climbed all the way to $5.75/MMBtu in trading on Wednesday. It dropped a few cents in Thursday trading, then fell to an average of $5.44/MMBtu for deliveries Saturday through Monday. Values for San Juan Basin gas were nearly identical.

Southern California Border gas was priced between $5.70 and $5.92/MMBtu on Monday, pushed past $6/MMBtu on Wednesday and Thursday, then dropped to an average of $5.83/MMBtu for Saturday deliveries.

In the Pacific Northwest, gas at Malin, Ore. pushed a few cents past $6/MMBtu midweek before settling at around $5.90/MMBtu in Friday trading [C. R.].

Western Electricity Prices
Week's End: January 1 - 5, 2007
Hub Peak (heavy) Off-peak (light)
Alberta Pool (C$) 25.18-119.31 7.42-59.66
Mid-Columbia 42-54 36-52
COB 48.50-57 36.75-53
NP 15 50.50-60.25 35.25-48.75
SP 15 48.50-60 34.50-48.25
Palo Verde 45-51.25 30.25-44

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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