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Western Price Survey / Archives

January 15, 2003
Load Shortfall Lands on Prices

With predictions for electric demand outpacing actual loads through Wednesday, spot electric prices at most Western hubs retreated. In doing so, power premiums staged a rare and very modest revolt against the grip of generation fuel prices, which held steady midweek.

"Everybody's load forecast was a little bit high," said one trader, noting that an expected swath of cold weather has yet to make its presence felt. In addition, market players are making many trades in two-day blocks this week in advance of Monday's holiday (in observance of Martin Luther King, Jr.), further compromising the ability to predict demand.

The Bonneville Power Administration's added to its offering this week, signaling that hydroelectric supplies are healthier than in recent weeks. On Wednesday, BPA pushed its peak-period power offer to 300 MW, up from 200 MW earlier in the week. Bonneville's light-load offer remained at 50 MW.

Evidenced by BPA's overtures, deeper river waters in the Pacific Northwest appeared to have an impact on peak prices at Mid-Columbia, which ran as high as 42 mills for some trades on Monday before falling to 36 mills/KWh midweek. Light-load prices kept between 28.5 mills and 31.75 mills/KWh.

Heavy-load prices at NP15 and SP15 held in the low- to mid-40 mills range; trades for off-peak power garnered between 28 mills and 33 mills/KWh at NP15 and 25.5 mills to 29.5 mills/KWh at SP15. California-Oregon border premiums reached a high of 41.25 mills for peak energy, with Palo Verde drawing 37.75 mills to 41 mills/KWh.

Loads as reported by the California Independent System Operator barely cracked the 30,000 MW threshold by Wednesday. The amount of generation capacity knocked off line by unexpected outages plummeted to 1,011 MW on Monday morning only to bounce back the next day, ending up at about 2,750 MW.

At Canada's Alberta power pool, real-time prices defied gravity as cold-weather loads crept higher. Off-peak prices ranged as high as 149.88 mills and peak prices elevated to 480.89 mills/KWh on Monday, with demand cresting at 8,433 MW midweek [Jason Mihos].

Western Electricity Prices
Mid-Week January 13-17, 2003
Hub Peak (heavy) Off-peak (light)
Alberta Pool (C$) 10.19-480.89 14.90-148.88
Mid-Columbia 36-42 28.5-31.75
COB 36-41.25 28.75-31.25
NP 15 40.5-44.75 27.5-33
SP 15 41-45.75 26.5-29.5
Palo Verde 37.75-41 22-26.5

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


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