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Western Price Survey

Week's End Edition
January 18, 2008
Power Prices Climb as Colder Weather Begins Another March Across U.S.

Forecasts of colder temperatures on Monday and Tuesday pushed up day and nighttime power prices, as the week ended with increases of $5 to $19/MWh at each of the Western trading hubs.

Downed units at two nuclear power plants in Arizona and south of Los Angeles were also pressuring prices and keeping them high. Nuclear units at Palo Verde and San Onofre are still undergoing routine maintenance and are slightly behind schedule for their return to full power.

Daytime prices achieved one of the biggest gains at the California-Oregon border, with values skyrocketing $18 to an average of $92.57/MWh on Friday. Off-peak was no slacker, climbing Monday from $63.14 to $72.15/MWh on Friday.

Daytime power at the Mid-Columbia hub outpaced the California-Oregon border gains, pushing up $19 to $89.97/MWh on Friday. Nighttime power added $13 to reach $74.29/MWh.

Peak values at North of Path 15 rose $12 to $88.83/MWh by Friday, while off-peak trades saw gains of $8 to $68.10/MWh.

South of Path 15's daytime power prices hit $88.60/MWh on Friday, up from $75.77 at the start of the week. Nighttime electricity increased $9 to $67.69 by Friday.

Palo Verde peak values rose a modest $5 to $73.09/MWh. Price gains were not as dramatic because temperature swings have been small and torrential downpours have not pelted the area as they have on the West Coast. Off-peak power soared $7 over the week to a close of $60.83/MWh on Friday.

What's Ahead: Colder weather, accompanied by snow, rain and strong winds in the mountains, is forecast for most of the West Coast starting Monday, AccuWeather reported. In Portland and Seattle, mostly cloudy skies today will gradually turn into showers and possibly snow by tomorrow. Expect temperatures in the high 30s to low 40s.

In San Francisco, sunny skies and temperatures in the high 50s this week will be replaced by a slight chance of rain and temperatures in the high 40s. Los Angeles will also see a slight chance of rain, while temperatures will dip Monday 10 degrees from the high 60s to the high 50s. Palm Springs will follow the rest of the state, with clouds and lower temperatures in the mid-50s sneaking in by Martin Luther King Day. Phoenix will ignore the rest of the West to experience warmer weather with temperatures moving from the high 50s today to the low 60s by Monday.

The second unit at the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station is still down for a refueling outage, and no date has been given for its restart. The 1,070 MW unit has been down since late November and was scheduled to return to full operation last week. However, additional repairs needed to be made to maintenance equipment.

At the Palo Verde nuclear plant, Unit No. 3, which can produce up to 1,311 MW, was slowly ramping back up Friday after being out this week. Routine maintenance was behind the outage [Kristina Shevory].

Natural Gas Prices Post Modest Gains Ahead of MLK Holiday

Natural gas prices closed out the week about 20 cents to 40 cents higher than Monday. But traders ignored fore-casts of colder weather and a relatively large drawdown in supplies and kept prices around $8/MMBtu. Typically, traders don't like to make large bets on prices before a holiday weekend. Monday is Martin Luther King Day.

Prices in the East, which is suffering a cold snap, took no note of the holiday: Values rose past $20/MMBtu at the Algonquin CityGate hub on Friday, and $27 at Transco in New York.

Around the country, natural gas supplies shrank by 59 Bcf to 2.691 Tcf last week, the U.S. Energy Information Administration reported in its weekly storage report. The drawdown came in as expected, and was lower than last year's 89 Bcf dip. As of now, stockpiles stand nearly 9 percent below the same level last year but about 7 percent above the five-year average.

In the West, supplies dropped by 24 Bcf to 351 Bcf. Currently, there is about 4 percent less natural gas in storage than in the same period last year, though there is 5 percent more than the five-year average [K. S.].

Western Electricity Prices
Week's End: January 14 - 18, 2008
Hub Peak (heavy) Off-peak (light)
Alberta Pool (C$) 22.62-379.35 12.12-224.60
Mid-Columbia 69.75-102 61-76
COB 74-98.50 62.75-74.50
NP 15 74.50-91 58.50-69.50
SP 15 74.25-90 58-69.50
Palo Verde 60-78 52.50-63

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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