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Western Price Survey

February 1, 2019
Storms Boost California Snowpack

The latest manual Sierra Nevada snowpack measurement found the snowpack at 100 percent of average thanks to January storms that helped improve California’s immediate water future.

Fifty inches of snowpack was recorded in the second snow survey of the season, according to the California Department of Water Resources—a snow-water equivalent of 18 inches.

“The snowpack across California is on par with the historical average for this time of year, thanks in no small part to an atmospheric river that brought heavy snowstorms to the Sierra Nevada,” DWR Director Karla Nemeth said in a press release. “It’s a start, but the next two or three months will determine what it means for our reservoirs and overall water supply.”

The statewide snowpack contains 17 inches of snow-water equivalent, 100 percent of the Jan. 31 average. Regular measurements allow the agency to more accurately forecast spring runoff.

Western daytime power prices generally added value in Jan. 24 to Jan. 31 trading; however, Palo Verde ended even at $27/MWh. South of Path 15 gained the most in trading, up $6.05 to $44.15/MWh. By Jan. 31, prices ranged from $27/MWh at Palo Verde to $45.05/MWh at North of Path 15

Off-peak power prices moved nominally, with Mid-Columbia nighttime power up $2.80 to $33.80/MWh while California-Oregon Border values eroded a quarter to $33.50/MWh.

Henry Hub natural gas spot prices lost 30 cents in trading, ending at $2.83/MMBtu.

Most Western natural gas hubs’ prices decreased by between 4 and 69 cents by Jan. 31. El Paso-Permian Basin natural gas, which ended trading at $2.03/MMBtu, fell 69 cents. Sumas and Alberta gas were the exceptions, adding 19 and 45 cents to reach $3.59/MMBtu and $1.85/MMBtu, respectively.

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Working natural gas in storage was 2,197 Bcf as of Jan. 25, according to U.S. Energy Information Administration estimates. This is a net decrease of 173 Bcf compared with the previous week. Storage levels are now 0.6 percent less than a year ago and 13 percent less than the five-year average.

Southern California Gas Co. withdrew 0.166 Bcf from the Aliso Canyon natural gas storage facility between Jan. 24 and Jan. 25, according to the utility’s ENVOY reporting system. This brings the tally to nearly 2 Bcf of natural gas withdrawn from Aliso Canyon between Jan. 14 and Jan. 25.

California Independent System Operator demand reached 27,747 MW Jan. 31, which should be the week’s high. Northwest Power Pool use was 61,802 MW Jan. 30.

Total renewables on the CAISO grid reached 11,447 MW Jan. 26, satisfying roughly 45.5 percent of demand. –Linda Dailey Paulson

Archives of the Western Price Survey for the past year are also available online.

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