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Western Price Survey

Week's End Edition
January 26, 2007
Wholesale Power Prices at Most Hubs Barely Budge on Mild Demand

Last week the ubiquitous story was how warm weather and low power demand drastically pushed down Western prices after a devastating cold front. This week was a game of small price movements relative to particular trading hubs and types of electrical commodities.

Generally it was the case this week that mild demand kept prices in check. Prices inched downward midweek, gaining back just a bit of value in Friday trading. However, the story was not identical for every hub or for every kind of electricity commodity.

Mid-Columbia peak power, for instance, followed the script and was nearly at a standstill. It started the week between 52 mills and 55 mills/kWh and, after wobbling a mill or two throughout the week, finished about where it started. Off-peak power, however, rose to about 51 mills/kWh for deliveries this Monday after starting the week at about 45 mills/kWh.

Daytime power at the California-Oregon border went for about 60 mills/kWh at the start of the week, dropped to about 55 mills/kWh in Thursday trading, and gained maybe a mill on Friday. But off-peak power gained a few mills today after starting the week at 50 mills/kWh. Low temperatures in parts of Washington and Oregon are expected to flirt with or fall below freezing through this weekend.

In California, high-demand power at North of Path 15 and South of Path 15 traded from about 66 mills/kWh to 70 mills/kWh much of the week. The commodity fell to about 61 mills/kWh for deliveries next Monday, with high temperatures in the 60s and 70s predicted for the California coast through Monday. Off-peak power settled at 52 mills/kWh today, after starting the week at a high of 55 mills and dropping to a low of about 46 mills/kWh on Thursday. Low temperatures are expected to be in the 40s along the coast.

In trading today, daytime power at Palo Verde spread from 56 mills/kWh to 61.50 mills/kWh, generally reflecting the range of fluctuations in previous trading days. But off-peak power shot up to about 51 mills/kWh for deliveries this Monday, after spending much of the week in the range of 45 mills/kWh. Low temperatures in Palo Verde are expected to drop to about 40 degrees Fahrenheit on Monday.

The California Independent System Operator reported demand this week that hovered near 32,000 MW, with about 6,000 MW of generation curtailed for various planned and unplanned outages. The 1,080 MW Unit No. 3 of the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station went off line last weekend for maintenance, but returned to full service midweek. Elsewhere, planned outages included the 682 MW Unit No. 7 of the Pittsburg power plant; the 1,020 MW Big Creek hydro project; and the 750 MW Pastoria plant, which was curtailed by 500 MW as of Thursday.

As for what is ahead, the Northwest Power and Conservation Council recently reported that hydroelectric output from the Columbia Basin should be normal this spring and summer, leaving the region with a surplus of about 3,900 MW [Chris Raphael].

Natural Gas Values Drop Despite Large Storage Draw

The U.S. Energy Information Administration on Thursday reported that 179 Bcf of natural gas was taken from storage for the week ending Jan. 19 as the nation tried to keep warm during a cold snap. The West removed 43 Bcf and the East took out 75 Bcf.

But traders expected the withdrawal, and gas prices actually fell. Total natural gas in storage is 2.7 Tcf, about 251 Bcf above stocks last year and 20 percent above the five-year average. On Thursday gas futures for February delivery tumbled 51 cents to $6.90/MMBtu, and gained back just 14 cents on Friday as traders reportedly corrected for a possible cold-weather forecast next week.

In the West, however, where temperatures are expected to be mild through Monday, natural gas values continued a decline that began midweek. Permian Basin gas, which was at a high of $7.10/MMBtu in Tuesday trading, dropped to a median of $6.65/MMBtu Thursday and $6.52/MMBtu Friday. San Juan Basin gas went for a high of $6.95/MMBtu Tuesday and spread between $6.29 and $6.60/MMBtu for deliveries this weekend. Southern California border gas reached $7.21/MMBtu Tuesday and spread from $6.56 to $6.79/MMBtu for weekend deliveries [C. R.].

Western Electricity Prices
Week's End: January 22 - 26, 2007
Hub Peak (heavy) Off-peak (light)
Alberta Pool (C$) 7.07-204.83 6.77-140.74
Mid-Columbia 50.50-57 45-51.75
COB 54.75-61.25 46.75-53.50
NP 15 59-69.50 46.50-55.75
SP 15 59-70 46.50-55.50
Palo Verde 55-61.50 42.75-52

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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