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Western Price Survey

January 20, 2017
California Snowpack Keeps Increasing

California’s snowpack is quickly building up as the state expects areas to be deluged with even more precipitation in the coming days.

The statewide snowpack was 24 inches of snow-water equivalent (SWE) as of Jan. 20, which is 168 percent of normal, according to the California Department of Water Resources. This is double the 12 inches reported Jan. 13.

The DWR eight-station index for precipitation is now at 213 percent of average for this date, according to the Jan. 19 Daily Statewide Hydrologic Update. South Lake Tahoe is at 242 percent of its normal precipitation since Oct. 1, while Los Angeles is at 159 percent and San Francisco at 134 percent.

Working natural gas in storage was 2,917 Bcf as of Jan. 13, according to U.S. Energy Information Administration estimates. This is a net decrease of 243 Bcf compared to the previous week.

Storage levels are now 12.9 percent less than a year ago and 2.6 percent less than the five-year average.

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This is the third time this heating season that a weekly withdrawal exceeding 200 Bcf has been reported. The EIA attributes this to “a combination of cold weather, increased capacity for natural gas-fired electric generation, reduced natural gas production relative to last year, and increased natural gas export volumes.”

Henry Hub gas spot values dropped 11 cents between Jan. 12 and Jan. 19, ending at $3.22/MMBtu.

Western natural gas values generally lost between 6 cents and as much as 42 cents in trading. Sumas natural gas posted the greatest loss, down 42 cents to $3.09/MMBtu. El Paso-Permian natural gas was the exception, adding 2 cents to reach $3.05/MMBtu in trading.

Western peak power prices rose a dollar or two in the Jan. 13 to Jan. 20 trading period. Markets were closed Monday, Jan. 16, in observance of the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday. Prices ranged from $27.65/MWh at Palo Verde to $36.40/MWh at South of Path 15.

Average nighttime power prices generally followed suit, save for SP15 off-peak values, which shed 60 cents. Other Western hubs added between 70 cents and as much as $3.50, led by California-Oregon Border, which ended at $28.50/MWh.

CAISO demand reached 31,022 MW Jan. 18, which should be the week’s high. Northwest Power Pool demand was 65,708 MW Jan. 16.

What’s next: After weekend storms across the West, even heavier rainfall is expected in the greater Los Angeles area through Jan. 24. Rains are expected in San Francisco for that same period, with clear weather the rest of the week [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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