Western Price Survey
January 25, 2019
Citing cooler weather conditions and customer demand, Southern California Gas Co. withdrew 1.830 Bcf from the Aliso Canyon natural gas storage facility between Jan. 14 and Jan. 23.
A total of 1.213 Bcf was withdrawn between Jan. 14 and Jan. 17, with another 0.617 Bcf taken out from Jan. 21 to Jan. 23, according to the utility’s ENVOY reporting system.
Sendouts peaked at 3.41 Bcf Jan. 22, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.
Systemwide requests for voluntary natural gas generation curtailment were issued. However, if the balancing authorities—the Los Angeles Department of Water & Power and the California Independent System Operator—deny the request based on potential reliability issues, SoCal Gas has authority to withdraw from Aliso Canyon. CAISO declined the request based on potential reliability issues, which triggered SoCal Gas’ need to withdraw from Aliso Canyon.
Western natural gas prices fell as much as $1.29 in Jan. 17 to Jan. 24 trading. SoCal CityGate dropped the most, losing $1.29 to end at $3.98/MMBtu. El Paso-Permian Basin gas was the exception, adding 84 cents to reach $2.72/MMBtu.
Henry Hub natural gas spot prices tumbled 39 cents in trading, ending at $3.13/MMBtu.
Meanwhile, Western peak power prices fell by as much as $15 in Jan. 17 to Jan. 24 trading. North and South of Path 15 values dropped 29 percent; NP15 prices fell $15.65 to $39.15/MWh.
Off-peak power prices also dropped in trading, with California hubs losing roughly $5. SP15 lost the most by Jan. 24, down $5.35 to $36.15/MWh.
CAISO demand reached 28,410 MW Jan. 22, which should be the week’s high. That same day, Northwest Power Pool demand reached 61,944 MW.
Total renewables output on the CAISO grid reached 13,599 MW Jan. 21, satisfying roughly 43.5 percent of demand. Thermal generation peaked Jan. 23 at 11,666 MW, meeting almost 42.5 percent of demand.
The 1,200-MW Columbia Generating Station ramped down Jan. 21 to 65 percent for unplanned maintenance on the condensate system. It leveled off at 70 percent capacity during the repairs and was back up to full operating power Jan. 23, according to Mike Paoli, Energy Northwest spokesman.
Repairs are typically made during refueling shutdowns; however, with two years between those, the need for maintenance is inevitable, Paoli said. Energy Northwest chooses to perform rather than defer maintenance.
“Even when operating at 70 percent, we’re operating at a greater capacity factor than the next most reliable generation resource,” Paoli said. Capacity factor is the measurement of generation efficiency compared with nameplate capacity, which was 92 percent for nuclear in 2017, according to the latest EIA data. This compares with 51 percent for combined-cycle natural gas generation. –Linda Dailey Paulson
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