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Western Price Survey

February 6, 2015
System Brings West Rain, Little Snow

Precipitation is certainly welcome across the parched Western U.S., but warmer temperatures expected with this latest system mean the precipitation is mostly falling as rain, not as much-needed snow.

The greatest precipitation is forecast to occur through the weekend in the Sierra Nevada and the Northern California coastal ranges, according to the National Weather Service. Snow is expected only at the highest elevations.

The California snow-water equivalent measured 12 percent of average as of Feb. 5, according to the California Department of Water Resources.

Farther north, observed precipitation at the Columbia River above The Dalles is 11.9 inches for the water year to date, or about 94 percent of normal as of Feb. 4, according to Kevin Berghoff, senior hydrologist with the Northwest River Forecast Center. Last February, observed precipitation was around 51 percent. The upper Columbia River-area snow-pack is now between 100 and 130 percent of normal.

Working natural gas in storage reached 2,428 Bcf as of Jan. 30, according to U.S. Energy Information Administration estimates, a net decrease of 115 Bcf from the previous week. Storage levels are now 23.9 percent greater than a year ago and 1.2 percent less than the five-year average.

Natural gas values fell over the Jan. 29 to Feb. 5 trading period. The Henry Hub spot price dropped to $2.63/MMBtu Feb. 4, its lowest level since June 26, 2012, according to the EIA. Western natural gas prices slid between 12 and 37 cents by the end of trading. Stanfield natural gas values lost the most, falling 37 cents to end at $2.16/MMBtu.

Western peak power values fell between $1.50 and $7/MWh on average in Jan. 30 to Feb. 6 trading. Average daytime prices ranged from $13.55/MWh at Mid-Columbia to $32.30 at South of Path 15.

Average off-peak prices followed suit, down between $6 and $8.50. Mid-C posted the greatest loss, tumbling $8.50 to $12.10/MWh. Average off-peak prices Friday ranged from $12.10/MWh at Mid-C to $18.75/MWh at Palo Verde.

Western natural gas prices as a whole were significantly lower in January 2015 compared with last year. The higher 2014 natural gas prices were based on factors including more expensive Canadian natural gas and increased Pacific Northwest demand. For power, average prices at Western hubs during January 2015 were also less than last year's [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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