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Western Price Survey

February 3, 2017
Water, Water Everywhere, But Will It Hold?

As of Feb. 2, the statewide snowpack has a 31-inch snow-water equivalent, which is 173 percent of the average for that time. This compares to 6.5 inches on Jan. 1.

The three regions monitored by the California Department of Water Resources, in fact, recorded more rainfall by Jan. 23 than their annual averages for the entire water year.

Despite the wet start, the weather is always subject to change. “In the last 10 water years, eight have been dry, one wet, one average,” said Mike Anderson, a state climatologist. “Hopefully this year will end up being wet, but we cannot say whether it will be one wet year in another string of dry ones.”

Working natural gas in storage was 2,711 Bcf as of Jan. 27, according to U.S. Energy Information Administration estimates. This is a net decrease of 87 Bcf compared to the previous week.

Storage levels are now 8.9 percent less than a year ago and 2.2 percent greater than the five-year average.

Henry Hub gas spot values lost 32 cents between Jan. 26 and Feb. 2, ending at $3.10/MMBtu.

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Western natural gas saw greater price drops, with hubs down between 22 cents and as much as 55 cents in trading. Opal natural gas posted the greatest loss, down 55 cents to $2.85/MMBtu.

Western peak power prices lost between $2.65 and $7 over the Jan. 27 to Feb. 3 trading period. California-Oregon Border prices fell $7, ending at $25.70/MWh.

Average nighttime power prices also fell between 95 cents and as much as $5.55.

Demand peaked on the CAISO grid at 30,086 MW Feb. 1, which should be the week’s high. Northwest Power Pool demand reached 63,576 MW on Feb. 2.

In January, average natural gas prices were higher than those in January 2016 (see “Price Trends,” next page). The average high price at Henry Hub was $3.41/MMBtu, which was about 90 cents higher than in 2016. Prices at Western hubs were 80 to 90 cents/MMBtu higher than in the same month last year.

Western power prices were between $3.65 and almost $19 greater than last year, thanks to a weather-driven price spike in early January. Mid-Columbia, for example, posted a high in January 2016 of $26.70/MWh. Last month’s high price at that hub was $45.70/MWh [Linda Dailey Paulson].

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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