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Western Price Survey / Archives

Febuary 13, 2004
Electricity Prices Tread Water

The price of electricity in the West exhibited little movement during the week and margins remained slim. Power at most hubs changed hands for prices that held to a narrow bandwidth of 1 or 2 mills.

In the Northwest, power prices stagnated in the 41 mills to 43 mills/KWh range at the Mid-Columbia hub during the early part of the week. By midweek, peak prices at the hub clawed their way up to the 42 mills to 44 mills/KWh vicinity, only to drop to 40 mills/KWh for Friday deliveries. Off-peak prices opening on Monday at an average price of 38 mills/KWh before swelling to the 41.50 mills/KWh mark in Thursday trading.

Deals done at the California-Oregon Border hub were nearly indistinguishable from one another during much of the week. Each day, peak power moved for between 44.50 mills and 46.25 mills/KWh. Off-peak power prices at the hub followed the Mid-C pattern, opening the week in the 39 mills/KWh range and then gaining a mill or two for end-of-week exchanges. Prices for weekend deliveries for peak load dropped down to 42 mills to 44 mills/KWh range.

Both California hubs also recorded negligible swelling or deflating of the price of electricity during the week. NP15 high-demand power moved for between 47 mills and 49 mills/KWh before dropping to 43 mills/KWh for weekend trades. SP15 stuck close to that range, trading for between 47 mills and 49.25 mills before sinking on Friday to a low of 43.25 mills/KWh. Low-load power at SP15 stayed in the 39 mills to 41 mills/KWh range throughout the week, while NP15 power opened the week in the range of 38.50 mills to 39.75 mills/KWh before gaining a couple of mills in late-week trading.

Palo Verde power costs lessened compared to last week. That hub's power attracted trades in the 43.25 mills to 46.25 mills/KWh range for peak delivery, a drop of up to 8 mills from last week. Off-peak power prices also slipped relative to last week. Low-demand power was trading for a high of just 37.25 mills/KWh, a drop from last week's high of 43.25 mills/KWh. By Friday, peak power at the hub was changing hands for between 39.75 mills and 41.25 mills/KWh.

The outage of Southern California Edison's San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station No. 2 for refueling, a loss of 1,122 MW for the next 45 days or so, did not seem to have any influence on prices this week. Further, with weather in the seasonal-norm range and natural-gas wholesale prices easing across the nation, little external pressure was being exerted on prices to drive them up.

In addition to SONGS No. 2, plant outages in the California Independent System Operator territory this week included a number of generating units located in Mexico. The 170 MW Ciclo Combinado Mexicali has been on a planned outage all week thus far, and the 309 MW La Rosita facility appeared on Cal-ISO's forced-outage list on Wednesday morning, remaining there the rest of the week. The Termoelectrica de Mexicali facility, rated at 600 MW, was curtailed by 90 MW all week as well.

La Paloma No. 3 was listing on unplanned-outage status Wednesday morning. The 231 MW unit was joined by its sibling, the 235 MW Unit No. 4, a bit later in the morning. Unit No. 4 returned to service Thursday morning. Duke's 337 MW Morro Bay No. 3 unit was listed on a planned outage Monday, though the 336 No. 4 unit at the facility was listed on a forced outage. By Wednesday, the No. 3 unit was back on line but No. 4 remained off the grid. On Thursday, both units were on forced outage in the evening.

Aside from SONGS No. 2, the region's nuclear plants were all at full capacity this week [Shauna O'Donnell].

Gas Prices Decline Steadily Throughout Week

There was no dramatic drop-off or sudden slide in natural gas prices this week. Rather, after a small hiccup upward on Tuesday, the wholesale cost for gas on the spot market rode a gentle downward slope over the course of the week. Many Western hubs closed out the week below $5.00/MMBtu.

Permian Basin gas opened the week between $5.00 and $5.11/MMBtu, gained about a nickel in Tuesday trading and closed out the week between $4.865 and $5.05/MMBtu. Topock deliveries followed a similar pattern. Gas at the Southern California Border hub traded for between $5.07 and $5.15/MMBtu on Monday, moved up to the $5.20/MMBtu mark on Tuesday and settled back to a range of $4.96 to $5.10/MMBtu in Thursday trading.

Gas at the AECO hub stayed comfortably below the $5.00 mark throughout the week, hitting a high of $4.74/MMBtu on Monday before easing down to $4.56/MMBtu for end-of-week deliveries [S O'D.].

Western Electricity Prices
Week of February 9 - 13, 2004
Hub Peak (heavy) Off-peak (light)
Alberta Pool (C$) 10.48-329.84 9.38-182.41
Mid-Columbia 40-44 37.50-41.50
COB 42-46.25 39.50-43
NP 15 43-49 38.50-41.50
SP 15 43.25-49.50 38.25-41
Palo Verde 39.75-46.25 34-37.75

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


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

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