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Western Price Survey / Archives

February 14, 2003
Prices Untouched by Rain

While areas around the state got a decent helping of much-needed rain, spot electric prices tried not to notice and generally ran higher this week. Premiums appeared to feast on the continued atrophy of hydroelectric resources in the region, as well as advances in the natural gas market and generation outages.

The Bonneville Power Administration's peak power offering climbed from 200 MW to 300 MW early in the week, then sank to 100 MW for deliveries through the weekend and including Monday and Tuesday of next week. BPA's off-peak bid held at 50 MW.

Beginning on Wednesday, traders made deals for the following two days and did the same on Thursday and Friday to account for the Presidents' Day holiday on February 17.

Electric prices for heavy-load hours pushed into the 50 mills/KWh range at all major hubs, with off-peak supplies trading mostly in the low 40 mills/KWh range. NP15 peak prices surged to 57 mills, and SP15 trades netted as much as 59 mills/KWh. Mid-Columbia prices rose to 52 mills on Wednesday, and Palo Verde premiums reached 54.5 mills/KWh.

On Thursday, off-peak prices increased sharply, jumping about 5 mills/KWh at each hub as peak prices sagged by a like amount. Light-load prices at SP15 reached a high of 49.5 mills, NP15 hit 49 mills and both Mid-Columbia and Palo Verde stretched up to 47 mills/KWh. Friday found light-load prices falling back to earth. Premiums at most hubs lost about 8 mills/KWh while peak prices held steady.

Demand on the California Independent System Operator grid remained imperturbable at about 29,500 MW, with 28,424 MW predicted for Friday's peak period.

Power plant capacity around the state is still sputtering, evidenced by as much as 17,216 MW in curtailed capacity, according to Cal-ISO reports. Unexpected outages include AES' Alamitos No. 5, with all 485 MW curtailed and Reliant's Coolwater No. 3, where nearly half of the plant's 245 MW has been pulled from the grid. AES' Redondo No. 6 unit joined the ranks of the ailing midweek, curtailing all 175 MW of capacity.

Pacific Gas & Electric's La Paloma No. 1 unit and No. 3 unit, each 260 MW, exited the grid during the week for unplanned maintenance. At Mirant Corp's Pittsburg generating facility, No. 5 returned to service early in the week after having all 312 MW curtailed on Monday. Mirant's 150 MW Pittsburg No. 1 unit remains off line.

Duke Energy's Morro Bay No. 3 plant, experiencing high-vibration turbine rotor troubles since mid- December, has yet to be fixed. According to Duke spokesperson Pat Mullen, the rotor is cracked and the company is determining whether to repair it or buy a replacement. No. 3 should be back in service this spring, Mullen said.

Meanwhile, Duke's Moss Landing plants remain off line, with all 754 MW at No. 6 and all 755 MW at No. 7 curtailed, respectively.

Canada's Alberta hub continued to report moderate loads, though real-time prices for off-peak hours appeared to increase compared to last week's premiums. Light-load prices moved between 22.94 mills and 153.95 mills, and peak supplies drew as much as 407.76 mills/KWh for one hour [Jason Mihos].

Weather Wavers, Keeps Gas in Check

Despite news of lower supplies in storage, natural gas prices this week appeared to react with caution. Premiums around the West started strong and then pulled back, mostly staying lower than last week's levels.

Contributing to the respite were futures on the NYMEX exchange, which traded lower due to uncertainty about upcoming weather.

Gas stocks around the country continue to decline, according to a regular Energy Information Administration bulletin February 13. Stored gas totals 1,371 Bcf, down 150 Bcf from the previous week and 789 Bcf lower than the amount of gas in storage at this time in 2002. Compared with the rest of the country, gas levels in the West suffered the least during the previous week, losing only 17 Bcf.

Prices at the San Juan Basin, unlike those at other Western hubs, found themselves below $5/MMBtu during the week. San Juan gas traded for as much as $5.25/MMBtu.

At the Permian Basin, prices saw a wider spread, knocking between $5.10 and $5.96/MMBtu. Gas at the Southern California Border ticked between $5.22 and $5.50/MMBtu.

CityGate prices began the week at about $5.50 and lurked in that vicinity through Friday, trading for as low as $5.30/MMBtu. At Malin, prices shuffled between $5.15 and $5.38/MMBtu.

At Canada's AECO hub, gas traded for $5.02 to $5.16/MMBtu [J. M.].

Western Electricity Prices
Week of February 10-14, 2003
Hub Peak (heavy) Off-peak (light)
Alberta Pool (C$) 35.55-407.76 22.94-153.95
Mid-Columbia 46-52 39.25-47
COB 49.25-54.5 46-46.75
NP 15 49-57 41-49
SP 15 51-59 40.5-49.5
Palo Verde 48-54.5 38-47

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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