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Western Price Survey / Archives

January 24, 2003
Trading in a State of Calm

Wholesale electricity prices stayed fairly quiet and within the familiar range of 41 to 49.75 mills/KWh for peak trades this week. This was in sharp contrast to East Coast activity, where temperatures were in the teens and prices for electricity were pushed into the triple digits for some trades. The frigid weather was expected to taper off Friday, and so were the prices for power.

Late Thursday, continuing work on the Los Baņos-Gates line dropped capacity on Paths 15, 25 and 26 on the north-to-south routes down by anywhere from 200 to 500 MW for Friday use. According to a Cal-ISO spokesperson, the overall system is not expected to be affected by these alterations.

Back here on the West Coast, a late-week bump in natural gas prices did not appear to affect electricity prices significantly. Some traders attributed the incremental increase that did occur in Western spot prices to the increasing concern about the parched conditions the Northwest will be facing in the coming months.

According to information on the US Department of Agriculture's Natural Resources Conservation Service Web site, reservoir storage throughout the West was significantly below average at the start of the month. Overall, these figures do not bode well for late- spring and summer hydropower.

California Independent System Operator loads are staying in the 30,000 MW zone, as they have for weeks. Outages within the control area on Tuesday and Wednesday hit a high of just over 14,500 MW, with 3,000 MW of that considered to be forced. The day before, unplanned outages totaled 1,737 MW during one polling.

At about 4:30 pm on Thursday an airplane crash affected transmission. Jon Tremayne, spokesperson for PG&E, said the crash happened in a remote area of Southeast San Jose and wiped out "multiple [power line] spans and multiple towers," including the 500 KV Tesla-Metcalf line. Repairs will take a couple of days, he said.

The Western Electricity Coordinating Council Web site indicated that the COI will be limited to 3,850 MW north-south because of the accident. According to officials with the Santa Clara County Sheriff's Office, the pilot flying the small Cessna Cirrus plane was killed in the crash.

PG&E National Energy Group's La Paloma Units No. 1 and No. 3 were off line on forced outage status on Wednesday, but No. 3 was up and running on Thursday. The unit was just designated for commercial operation last week. Unit No. 1 remained out as of Friday. Hunters Point Unit No. 4 started the week curtailing 3 MW, but by Thursday its 163 MW were completely off line. Unit No. 1 has been curtailed to about half its capacity for a while.

San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station No. 3 remains down for refueling, but Unit No. 2 is at 100 percent. The Palo Verde nuclear units Nos. 1, 2 and 3 are dancing around 97 to 100 percent of operating capacity, with Diablo Canyon generating at 100 percent of output most of the week. Diablo Canyon No. 2 clicked down to 97 percent on Friday morning. Plant spokesperson Jeff Lewis of Pacific Gas & Electric said the unit is in "coast-down mode," a fuel management scheme where the plant runs at slightly reduced power in advance of an upcoming refueling outage.

The Bonneville Power Administration offering for deliveries Thursday through next Tuesday stayed steady at 100 MW for peak delivery and 50 MW off-peak [Shauna O'Donnell].

Western Gas Priced the Best

What with the severe weather on the Eastern Seaboard driving up natural gas prices in the East and a withdrawal from storage for the week reported at a sizable 210 Bcf by the Energy Information Administration on Thursday, trading prices took a hike, so to speak.

All Western hubs bumped up on that day, with Malin reporting a high of $5.60/MMBtu, up from Tuesday's high of $4.91. The San Juan Basin prices for the week ranged from $4.49 to $5.25/MMBtu.

One trader said that the weather in the East was influencing prices in the West a bit but saw the increases as short-term, adding that after an initial flurry of trading at higher prices Thursday morning, the figures were tapering later in the day. Friday prices continued the taper.

While prices at the Permian Basin topped out at $6.25/MMBtu for Friday deliveries, the early part of the week tracked at between $5.09 and $5.50/MMBtu [S.O'D.].

Western Electricity Prices
Week of January 20-24, 2003
Hub Peak (heavy) Off-peak (light)
Alberta Pool (C$) 52.5-571.03 37.99-94.9
Mid-Columbia 39.75-44.25 37.55-42
COB 43.5-46 37-45.5
NP 15 41.5-49.5 31.75-36.75
SP 15 44.25-49.75 28.25-45.5
Palo Verde 42-49.75 27.25-33

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


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Contact Shauna O'Donnell, editor with questions regarding Price Survey Content.

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