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Western Price Survey

January 13, 2017
Western Weather Leaves Power Prices Static

Rain and snow made the week of Jan. 9 an eventful one across the western United States, but power prices moved little in response.

Heavy rains throughout California dented ongoing drought conditions. The California Department of Water Resources’ eight-station index for precipitation is at 215 percent of average for this date, according to the Jan. 12 Daily Statewide Hydrologic Update.

“The storms have poured roughly 350 billion gallons of water into the reservoirs since the beginning of the New Year,” Energy GPS analysts said. “This is ultimately boosting the elevation levels above anything seen over the past six years.”

Lake Shasta, for example, is now at 83 percent of its total capacity, which is 129 percent of the historical average for Jan. 12. At the lower end, Folsom Lake is at 69 percent of its total capacity, which is 137 percent of its average.

The statewide snowpack as of Jan. 13 was 12 inches of snow-water equivalent, or 163 percent of normal.

Working natural gas in storage was 3,160 Bcf as of Jan. 6, according to U.S. Energy Information Administration estimates. This is a net decrease of 151 Bcf compared to the previous week.

Storage levels are now 10.3 percent less than a year ago and 0.1 percent less than the five-year average.

Henry Hub gas spot values added 3 cents between Jan. 5 and Jan. 12, ending at $3.33/MMBtu.

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Western natural gas values generally moved up by between 5 cents and as much as 22 cents. Sumas natural gas posted the greatest gain, adding 22 cents to hit $3.51/MMBtu. El Paso-Permian natural gas was the exception, losing 17 cents to end up at $3.03/MMBtu.

Western peak power prices were nudged higher by the cold, adding roughly 30 cents and as much as $2.60 in Jan. 6 to Jan. 13 trading.

Average nighttime power prices varied. Pacific Northwest values eroded between a quarter and $1.70, while California hubs posted modest gains. South of Path 15 led hubs, up $1.20 to $29.50/MWh in trading.

Demand peaked on the CAISO grid at 30,649 MW Jan. 12, which should be the week’s high. Northwest Power Pool demand reached 69,384 MW Jan. 10.

What’s next: Forecasters say conditions are ripe for more precipitation the week of Jan. 16, as an atmospheric river over the Pacific Ocean should bring more rain starting Jan. 17. Heavy rains and strong winds are expected in the Bay Area, with rain and warmer weather at midweek in the greater Portland area [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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