Western Price Survey
January 24, 2014
Another blast of cold weather across the United States is pushing energy prices generally higher, but drought and above-normal temperatures are expected to continue in California.
January weather across the U.S. is expected to be about 12 percent colder than normal by the month's end, according to Barclays analysts. This would be the second-coldest winter over the last five years.
Working gas in storage reached 2,423 Bcf as of Friday, Jan. 17, according to U.S. Energy Information Administration estimates, a net decrease of 107 Bcf from the previous week. Storage levels are now 19.8 percent less than a year ago and 13.2 percent less than the five-year average. The Western region saw a 15 Bcf withdrawal during the agency's report period.
Natural gas inventories are still much tighter than average, according to Enerfax, which reports that traders anticipate the next two storage withdrawals to be much greater than average.
Henry Hub natural gas values jumped $1.02 since last Thursday, trading Jan. 23 at $5.56/MMBtu. Western prices also moved higher during the week with Permian gas gaining 58 cents to $5.03/MMBtu while Southern California Border gas rose 46 cents, ending at $5.05/MMBtu, and PG&E CityGate added 24 cents, trading at $4.96/MMBtu by Jan. 23 (see table).
Markets were closed Monday, Jan. 20, in observance of the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday.
Western power prices gained $4 to $5 in the abbreviated Jan. 17 to Jan. 24 trading period. Mid-Columbia led gainers, up $5.50 to $45.30/MWh on average. Prices ranged from $44.30 at Palo Verde to $53.80 at South of Path 15.
Off-peak prices also ended the Friday-to-Friday trading period higher, increasing between $4 and $6.75. Off-peak average prices Jan. 24 ranged from about $39.15 at Palo Verde to $48 at SP15.
Peak demand on the Cal-ISO grid reached 29,696 MW Jan. 22, which should be the week's high. Northwest Power Pool demand reached 58,689 MW Jan. 21.
The Colby Fire, which burned some 1,900 acres in the San Gabriel Mountains, damaged Southern California Edison power lines and caused customers to lose power. Edison replaced 14 poles, five transformers and 9,000 feet of wire as a result of the fire, the utility said. The fire destroyed five homes and damaged 17 structures.
What's ahead: The National Weather Service said normal conditions are likely for Washington and Oregon Jan. 29 through Feb. 2, while California and Arizona should see above-normal temperatures. Below-normal precipitation is forecast for California Jan. 29 through Feb. 6 [Linda Dailey Paulson].
Archives of the Western Price Survey for the past year are also available online.
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