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Western Price Survey / Archives

Febuary 6, 2004
Mid-Week Gains Lost with Low Demand

The early part of the week brought with it a steady upward swing to power prices throughout the West. No hub in the region exhibited a significant amount of volatility, but by Wednesday trading at Southwest and California hubs had gained two to four mills from Monday's opening prices, while Northwest power prices weakened slightly. By Friday, prices throughout the West were dipping lower.

Prices throughout the region were deflated compared to last week, generally because of downward pressure on the price of natural gas.

The cost of power might have stayed flat or even lost strength in the Southwest were it not for the loss of a handful of generating units in the region. On Wednesday, Unit No. 1 at the Palo Verde nuclear generating facility was reported off line by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Arizona Public Service spokesperson Sheri Foote said that a small leak in a drain line connected to the cooling system forced the unit out of service. Foote anticipated the facility would return to operability this weekend.

At the coal-fired Mohave Generating Station, both 790 MW Units No. 1 and 2 were listed as being on unplanned outage by the California Independent System Operator on Wednesday. Calpine's 527 MW Sutter facility continued off line this week. The 750 MW Four Corners Unit No. 4 continues to be curtailed by about 50 percent for scheduled reasons. On Thursday morning Alamitos No. 5 showed up on the Cal-ISO list of units out of service. The 485 MW unit was listed as being on an unplanned outage, joining its companion unit, the 485 MW Alamitos No. 6 unit, which has been on a planned outage for some time. Unit No. 5 was healthy by Thursday evening but the was replaced on the Cal-ISO list by the 175 MW No. 2 unit at the AES facility Friday morning.

Power at the California-Oregon Border opened on Monday at a high of 49.50 mills/KWh for peak deliveries, slipping down to between 42.75 mills and 45.25 mills/KWh for Friday deliveries. Off-peak power at the hub was trading for between 39.50 mills and 41.50 mills/KWh in early week transactions and gained a mill or two in late-week trading.

NP15 power opened on Monday between 48.50 mills and 53.25 mills/KWh before skipping up to between 51.50 mills and 54.25 mills/KWh by midweek. The price at the hub was nudged down as far as 46.25 mills/KWh for Friday deliveries. SP15 power followed a similar trajectory. Power for Tuesday deliveries changed hands at the hub for 49.25 mills to 52.50 mills/KWh before gaining about 4 mills the following day. On Thursday the price at SP15 slipped down to 46.25 mills/KWh for peak power. The downward slide was typical for weekend deliveries.

Off-peak power at SP15 ranged from a high of 40 mills/KWh at the beginning of the week to 45 mills/KWh on Wednesday. The price settled down near 42/mills/KWh on Thursday.

In Friday trading--for power to be delivered next Monday--off-peak deals drew as much as 44.50 mills/KWh at NP15, while the price for peak deliveries stayed in the 47.75 mills to 50 mills/KWh range.

Palo Verde power did not jump around too much in the early part of the week. Low-demand deliveries were going for about 37 mills on Monday, but by midweek the price of off peak power had moved up to 43.25 mills. High-demand power at Palo Verde stuck close to the 45 mills/KWh mark at the beginning of the week. Wednesday brought a small uptick at the hub, with peak power changing hands for between 48 mills and 50.50 mills/KWh, but end-of-week deliveries moved for between 44 mills and 46 mills/KWh. PV power lost a little strength on Friday, narrowing to a range of 44.25 mills to 44.75 for peak deliveries next Monday but off-peak power was traded for a high of 42 mills/KWh [Shauna O'Donnell].

Weather Relief Eases Gas Prices

Price pressures this week eased with the return of seasonal weather in the Northeast after days of frigid weather. Still, the severe cold was forecast to return soon to that region and temperatures are expected to drop in the West as well, buoying gas costs in the near future.

The market also remained unimpressed with the Energy Information Administration's reporting of a significant draw from storage during the week ending January 30. Though the 236 Bcf withdrawal dropped stocks down to 1,827 Bcf, that is still greater than the five-year average. Nevertheless, for the Western region in particular, the EIA calculated the current storage levels off 243 Bcf as 2.8 percent below the five-year average.

Natural gas prices in the West were on a gentle downward trajectory this week relative to last week's figures. For example, at the Permian Basin natural gas was trading for about a dime less than this time last week. Deliveries of gas at PG&E CityGate were down in price by at least a quarter--as was the gas at Topock. CityGate opened last week between $5.57 and $5.66/MMBtu. This past Monday's price at the hub was in the range of $5.225 and $5.265/MMBtu. By the end of the week, CityGate gas was trading for between $5.30 and $5.37/MMBtu.

At Malin and San Juan, gas trading opened the week below the $5.00 mark, whereas no hub last week reported prices under that figure. San Juan barely kept above that mark in end-of-week trading, moving in a range of $5.01 and $5.08/MMBtu for Friday deliveries [S O'D.].

Western Electricity Prices
Week of February 2 - 6, 2004
Hub Peak (heavy) Off-peak (light)
Alberta Pool (C$) 10.07-302.61 7.67-77.73
Mid-Columbia 40.75-45 37.50-43.50
COB 42.75-49.50 39.50-43.50
NP 15 42.25-54.25 39.25-44.50
SP 15 46.25-55.25 37-45
Palo Verde 45-50.50 35.75-43.25

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 Shauna O'Donnell, editor with questions regarding Price Survey Content.

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