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Western Price Survey

Week's End Edition
Febuary 1, 2008
Power Prices Diverge on Weather

Electricity prices along the West Coast generally soared this week as snow and rain bombarded the region and natural gas prices edged higher.

Starting on Thursday, prices for the Pacific Northwest and California diverged, with Northwest values dropping below Monday levels while California prices rose.

Lower weekend demand and slightly warmer temperatures in seemed culpable for prices decreases in the Northwest. But in California, nuclear plant outages and colder nighttime temperatures this weekend may have contributed to some of the price uptick.

Power prices in Oregon and Washington State were down $1 to $4 at each of the hubs, while California and Arizona saw increases of $1 to $6.

At the California-Oregon border, average peak prices shed around $4 to end the week at $81.46/MWh. Off peak prices slipped from $73.60 to an average of $72.52/MWh.

The Mid-Columbia trading hub also saw decreases for prime power of $4 to an average of $79.24/MWh. Off prime power slipped $2 to $73.48/MWh.

In California and the Southwest, prices gained ground over Monday's levels. At North of Path 15, daytime power prices added $2 to an average of $82.55/MWh, while nighttime power rose $3 to $66.52/MWh.

South of Path 15 saw gains of a little over $1 to $81.57 for average peak values. Off-peak power climbed $5 to around $65.56/MWh.

Daytime power at Palo Verde in Arizona had the biggest gain, climbing from $62.71 to an average of $69.09/MWh on Friday. Night power also skyrocketed $6 to $58.93/MWh.

What's Ahead: The Pacific Northwest just can't get a break. Seattle and Portland are both getting slammed by torrential showers and temperatures in the low to mid 40s. Sun won't return to the area until next week. Avalanches and up to three feet of snow are expected in the Cascades today, AccuWeather said.

San Francisco will enjoy partly sunny skies today before rain returns to the area this weekend. Expect temperatures in the mid 50s. Los Angeles and Palm Springs will have sunny skies and temperatures in the low 60s, though there is a chance of rain returning on Saturday night. Phoenix will be sunny, in the low 60s, with a chance of thunderstorms on Sunday night.

Diablo Canyon Power Plant's second unit, which can produce up to 1,100 MW, began powering down this week for maintenance work. The San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station was slowly returning its second unit, with a power rating of 1,070 MW, to full production after being closed for maintenance since late November [Kristina Shevory].

Natural Gas Prices Soar on Cold Weather, Fall Back on Weekend

Natural gas prices soared this week as cold weather gripped much of the country and the stock markets calmed down. The flurry of poor economic news likely helped dampen some of the increases, the U.S. Energy Information Agency said, because demand for natural gas would be directly affected.

West Coast gas prices climbed, particularly at trading hubs that depend on the fuel from Canada, the EIA said. A cold front swept through western Canada, bumping up demand there and raising prices here.

But on Friday, prices fell back, likely because of lower power needs over the weekend. The decreases were limited to a few pennies, though Malin saw the biggest fall of 22 cents/MMBtu. Only Pacific Gas & Electric's City Gate saw an increase of one penny to close out the week at the highest price of all the western hubs with $8.01/MMBtu. Other prices ranged from $7.42 to $7.72/MMBtu.

Natural gas supplies across the country shrank by 274 Bcf to 2.262 Tcf, the EIA reported. The drawdown is the largest since the federal agency started tracking weekly supplies 14 years ago. Last year, the withdrawal was 185 Bcf. Stockpiles are now 13 percent less than the same time last year, but are 4 percent more than the five-year average.

In the West, natural gas in storage slipped by 40 Bcf to 285 Bcf last week. There is now nearly 6 percent less gas than last year at this time [K.S.].

Western Electricity Prices
Week's End: Jan. 28 - Feb. 1, 2008
Hub Peak (heavy) Off-peak (light)
Alberta Pool (C$) 44.69-526.30 35.85-397.72
Mid-Columbia 77.50-91.75 72-81
COB 80.50-92.50 70-76
NP 15 79.50-87.50 61.75-69
SP 15 78.75-87 59.25-67
Palo Verde 60.50-73.50 51.50-60.50

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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