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Western Price Survey

February 5, 2016
California Sees More Snowpack, Rain

More precipitation in California this winter has eased the drought, but reservoirs are still short, as a single rainy season cannot easily diminish the water deficit accumulated over the past four years.

Both snowpack and reservoir water storage "are markedly improved this water year," the California Department of Water Resources said in reporting on the snowpack, but the agency urged continued conservation.

Rainfall in the three regions tracked by the agency was 123 percent of the historical average between Oct. 1 and Jan. 31. The statewide snow-water equivalent was 20.4 inches as of Feb. 2, or 114 percent of normal.

Water storage, although improved, remains below average for the date. Only Lake Folsom, at 107 percent, now has storage greater than its historical average. New Melones water storage, for example, is still at 28 percent of average.

Working natural gas in storage was 2,934 Bcf as of Jan. 29, according to U.S. Energy Information Administration estimates. This is a net decrease of 152 Bcf versus the previous week. Storage levels are now 20 percent greater than a year ago and 17.9 percent greater than the five-year average.

Henry Hub gas spot values lost 9 cents in trading, ending at $2.05/MMBtu Feb. 4.

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Western natural gas average values varied. Two hubs -- El Paso-San Juan Basin and Opal/Kern -- added a penny, while El Paso-Permian was flat at the end of the trading period. Other hubs lost between 1 and 12 cents. PG&E CityGate and Sumas posted the greatest loss, down 12 cents to $2.22/MMBtu and $1.86/MMBtu, respectively.

Western peak power prices fluctuated nominally in Jan. 29 to Feb. 5 trading. Pacific Northwest values added as much as $1.10, while Palo Verde posted the greatest loss, off $1.55 to an average of $20.55/MWh (see chart).

Nighttime power values varied as well. Most notably, California-Oregon Border off-peak prices were greater than the hub's peak prices from Wednesday through Friday, climbing $3.35 in the trading period, to $22.50/MWh.

Western power prices for January were generally lower on average compared to the same period last year. The exception was Mid-C, which recorded an average high price almost $2 greater than last year's, at $26.70/MWh. January Western natural gas values were lower by between 60 and almost 80 cents compared to the same month last year. Average high prices ranged from $2.50 to $2.85/MMBtu.

The Columbia Generating Station last month produced a record 860,813 net MWh, surpassing a previous record set in December [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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