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Western Price Survey

Week's End Edition
January 25, 2008
Power Prices Ignore Storm and Dip

Falling natural gas prices helped drag down daytime power prices this week despite another round of rain and snow on the West Coast. Lower power demands over the weekend also contributed to dipping electricity prices for daytime use.

Declines this week were limited to around $3. Off-peak prices, however, saw increases of between 60 cents and $4.

At the California-Oregon border, average peak-power prices dropped from $92.59/MWh to $88.61 on Friday. Off-peak power fell about $3 to an average of $70.50/MWh.

The Mid-Columbia trading hub saw a $3 decrease for peak power to an average of $86.45/MWh, while off-peak power inched up about 60 cents to $75.04/MWh.

North of Path 15 dipped by Friday $1.50 to an average of $82/MWh for daytime power. Nighttime power climbed $4 to $69.09/MWh.

Prime power values at South of Path 15 gave back $3 to $80.84/MWh. Off-hours power inched up $2 to $66.44/MWh.

Palo Verde peak-power prices in Arizona slipped from $65.48 to $62.99/MWh. Off-peak power rose $3 to $59.14/MWh.

What's ahead: Rain and snow are falling in many parts of California today and will continue through the weekend. Several mountain areas received more than a foot of snow on Thursday, while parts of Southern California received over five inches of rain. Heavy snow, flash floods and mudslides are predicted for this weekend in some areas of the state, according to AccuWeather.

Temperatures in San Francisco will be in the high 40s to low 50s. Los Angeles expects rain with temperatures in the high 50s. Palm Springs and Phoenix will enjoy temperatures in the high 50s to mid-60s, respectively, and won't see any rain until Saturday.

In the Pacific Northwest, Portland and Seattle will likely get a mix of rain and snow this weekend, with temperatures in the mid-30s to mid-40s.

Palo Verde Nuclear Generating Station's Unit No. 3 finally returned to full operation Friday with a full power rating of 1,311 MW. The unit had been down for routine maintenance for nearly a month. At the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station, the 1,070 MW second unit was slowly coming on line after being closed since late November for routine maintenance and to replace spent fuel [Kristina Shevory].

Gas Prices Shake Off Gains to End Week Lower

Natural gas prices dropped steadily this week at the major Western trading hubs as traders came off a long holiday weekend when the markets were closed on Monday for Martin Luther King Day.

Before then, traders had bid up prices modestly on both natural gas and electricity in advance of the weekend. But warmer weather and a below-average drawdown in supplies also helped bring down prices this week between 10 cents and 40 cents, with Western natural gas values averaging between $7.31/MWh and $7.87/MWh.

Storage shrank last week across the country by 155 Bcf to 2.536 Tcf, the U.S. Energy Information Administration reported. There is now about 9 percent less natural gas in storage than in the same period last year, though supplies are about 7 percent above the five-year average.

In the Western United States, storage fell by 26 Bcf to 325 Bcf. Supplies are at more or less the same level as last year, and 4 percent above the five-year average.

Natural gas values declined even as storms and cold weather hit the West Coast. Southern California border gas, for instance, dropped to an average of $7.57/MMBtu on Friday after trading most of the week well above $7.60/MMBtu. Permian Basin gas plummeted to an average of $7.31 on Friday after trading comfortably above $7.50/MMBtu earlier in the week.

In other good news for lower natural gas prices, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration expects fewer hurricanes hitting the U.S. coastline thanks to warmer ocean temperatures, according to an agency report released earlier this week. From 1854 to 2006, sea-surface temperatures have risen around most of the world, the agency said [K. S.].

Western Electricity Prices
Week's End: January 21 - 25, 2008
Hub Peak (heavy) Off-peak (light)
Alberta Pool (C$) 24.76-332.14 15.80-84.96
Mid-Columbia 75-102 70-79.50
COB 81.50-98.50 69-75
NP 15 79-91 64-71
SP 15 74.75-90 63-68.50
Palo Verde 59-76 55.25-61.50

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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