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Western Price Survey

Week's End Edition
January 11, 2013
Western Energy Prices Post Gains

Western energy prices moved higher Friday, with both daytime electricity and natural gas prices generally gaining value over the Jan. 4 to Jan. 11 trading period.

Working gas in storage reached 3,316 Bcf as of Friday, Jan. 4, according to U.S. Energy Information Administration estimates, a net decrease of 201 Bcf from the previous week. It is the largest withdrawal to date in this heating season and, notes Enerfax, "the largest in nearly two years."

Storage levels are now 2.6 percent less than a year ago and 10.7 percent above the five-year average.

Nationally, natural gas prices have been pushed lower by warm weather since the end of November 2012. "The colder-than-normal weather in the last two weeks could not rescue the front of the natural gas curve, as the near-term weather forecast showed that the cold spell was proven to be short-lived," noted Barclays analysts in a Jan. 11 commodities report. "As more warm weather is predicted, the risk for prices is skewed to the downside, unless a significant turnaround in weather materializes."

Henry Hub natural gas values were flat, losing 1 cent since Jan. 4 and trading Jan. 11 at $3.18/MMBtu. Western prices, however, generally moved higher. Malin gas rose 13 cents, trading Friday at $3.43/MMBtu, and Southern California Border gas added 12 cents to $3.49/MMBtu.

Here's how average peak-power prices at Western hubs fared since Jan. 4:

  • Mid-Columbia: Jumped $7.15 to $33/MWh.
  • California-Oregon Border: Gained $7.05 to $35.20/MWh.
  • North of Path 15: Up $3.35 to $41.85/MWh.
  • Palo Verde: Rose $3.95 to about $34.50/MWh.
  • South of Path 15: Dropped $1.25 to $46.95/MWh.

Off-peak power prices rose across the board in Friday-to-Friday trading, with gains from roughly $1.15 at SP15 to almost $5.10 at both COB and Mid-C. Average prices for off-peak power Friday ranged from about $29/MWh at Mid-C to $40.45/MWh at SP15.

Peak demand on the Cal-ISO grid reached 31,455 MW Thursday, Jan. 10, which may prove to be the week's high. Northwest Power Pool demand reached 60,403 MW Thursday.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission reports that Palo Verde Unit No. 3 is continuing to operate at 40 percent of its generating capacity. The unit was powered down Jan. 7 to repair a leaking condenser. Arizona Public Service has not provided an estimated time for a return to full operation.

What's ahead: Starting Monday, Jan. 14, mostly sunny skies are expected across the Pacific Northwest, with continued dry and cold weather into Thursday. Seattle and Portland should have temperatures in the 40s Monday through Thursday. Sunny skies and daytime highs in the low to mid-50s are anticipated in the San Francisco area Monday through Thursday [Linda Dailey Paulson].

Western Electricity Prices
Week's End: January 7 - 11, 2013
Hub Peak (heavy) Off-peak (light)
Alberta Pool (C$) 21.07-192.19 10.92-46.53
Mid-Columbia 24-38 18.75-32
COB 26-35.75 21.25-34
NP 15* 38-42 31.50-35.75
SP 15* 41.50-49 36-40.50
Palo Verde 28.75-35 20.50-30.25

* Prices represent both day-ahead locational marginal prices (financial swaps, or EZ Gen DA LMPs) and quasi-swap prices (EZ Gen) as reported by ICE.

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.

Please contact with questions or comments about this site.

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

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