Western Price Survey / Archives
January 23, 2004
Starting the trading week a day late because of the Monday holiday, electricity markets got off to a sluggish start. Spreads across the Western hubs were minimal and fairly typical, with California and Southwest power outpacing Northwest deals by a small amount at the beginning of the week.
On Thursday, Northwest power prices exhibited a bit of life, despite the fact that deals sealed were to supply lower-demand weekend loads. The end-of-week uptick in prices was attributed to the expectation of lower temperatures this weekend and the first part of next week.
Mid-Columbia peak-load packages traded for between 42.25 mills and 45.25 mills/KWh on Tuesday. By Thursday, power at that hub was being offered for between 46 mills and 48.50 mills/KWh. Off-peak power at Mid-C ranged from a Tuesday low of 37.75 mills/KWh to a Thursday high of 43.75 mills/KWh.
Transactions at the California-Oregon Border skipped up to the 49 mills/KWh mark on Wednesday after opening the week between 44 mills and 47 mills/KWh. By the end of the week, COB peak power was moving for as much as 49.75 mills/KWh. Low-demand power deals at the border matched the Mid-C high of 43.75 mills/KWh on Thursday.
At the SP15 hub, peak power was traded for between 45.50 mills and 50 mills/KWh on Tuesday and topped out at 53.50 mills/KWh on Wednesday before slipping to a range of 48.50 mills and 50.75 mills/KWh on Thursday. Off-peak power at SP15 changed hands for between 33 mills and 38.25 mills/KWh this week. NP15 power managed to just exceed the 50 mills/KWh mark on Wednesday, before slipping to between 47 mills and 48.50 mills/KWh at the end of the week.
Facilities listed on unplanned outage by Cal-ISO included the 790 MW Mohave No. 2 unit and Duke's Southbay No. 3 unit. That 175 MW unit was accompanied by the 146 MW No. 1 unit at Southbay, though Unit No. 1 was listed as being on a planned hiatus. Duke's Unit Nos. 3 and 4 at Morro Bay continued off line this week as well. Many power plants were listed on the planned-outage side of the ledger, including the 332 MW No. 3 and 335 MW No. 4 units at Alamitos. In the Bay Area, Mirant's 337 MW Contra Costa No. 6 unit returned to service on Thursday following an extended planned outage. The company's 317 MW Pittsburg No. 6 appeared on Cal-ISO's list of plants on scheduled outage this week.
California power prices, although on the higher end of the price scale for the region, looked pretty good compared with the prices at the Nepool hub or PJM-West. Nepool power was trading for as much as 80 mills/KWh while PJM-West was attracting 64 mills/KWh [Shauna O'Donnell].
Bearish EIA Report Sinks Futures
Continued high spot prices for natural gas and cold weather in the East buoyed prices in the Western region this week. Most of the region's hubs reported deals being settled in the mid-to-high fives. These spot-market figures did not lend their strength to the futures market as the week closed, however.
Following release of the weekly Energy Information Administration report on Thursday, gas being moved on the NYMEX futures market lost nearly 10 percent of value for February and March deliveries. The EIA reported less-than-anticipated draws from underground storage, a surprise considering the high demand of late.
The EIA figures showed stocks in storage to be 2,258 Bcf at the end of last week, up from last year's figure at this time of 2,414 Bcf. Overall, storage numbers are higher than the historical five-year average by about 9 percent, though the figure for the West did show a decline when compared with the average of 1.4 percent.
Prices throughout the West existed within a relatively narrow bandwidth this week.
Permian Basin gas opened the week running between $5.48 and $5.65/MMBtu before slipping down to a range of $5.22 to $5.40/MMBtu at the end of the week. PG&E CityGate gas just cleared the $6.00 bar Wednesday, with deals reported in the $6.02 to $6.04/MMBtu range. Deals the previous day registered in the $5.93 to $5.97/MMBtu vicinity.
At AECO, trades stuck to the low end of the week's range. Deals for end-of-week deliveries were running about $5.07/MMBtu, a drop from the beginning-of-week figure of $5.24/MMBtu [S O'D.].
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