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Western Price Survey

February 15, 2019
Western Energy Prices Trend Down

Cold weather and natural gas supply constrictions lingered across the West, but regional energy prices generally shed value in Feb. 7 to Feb. 14 trading.

Sumas, the natural gas hub to watch, was buffeted by a combination of constrained supplies from Canada and record snowfall in portions of the Pacific Northwest that elevated heating demand. After shooting up to $48.67/MMBtu early in the week, the hub ended at $7.75/MMBtu Feb. 14.

Western natural gas prices generally dropped between Feb. 7 and Feb. 14. Both SoCal CityGate and Sumas natural gas fell 60 percent in trading; however, SoCal CityGate lost the most value, down $12.15 to $7.94/MMBtu.

El Paso-Permian Basin and Alberta natural gas proved the exception among Western hubs. El Paso-Permian Basin natural gas added the most, up 81 cents, or 63 percent, to $2.09/MMBtu after a force majeure on El Paso Natural Gas’ Line 1600 was lifted Feb. 10 and the line returned to full capacity.

Northwestern daytime power prices remained above the $100 mark by Feb. 14; however, price support began thawing between Monday and Tuesday, when Western power values dropped between 35 percent and as much as 49 percent.

At the end of trading, values lost between $8 and as much as $33.75. California-Oregon Border lost the most, down $33.75, or 25 percent, to $103.10/MWh. By Feb. 14, Western peak power prices ranged from $68/MWh at Palo Verde to $109/MWh at Mid-Columbia.

Off-peak Western power prices fell between 27 and 39 percent in trading. South of Path 15 plunged $43.55, a 39-percent drop, to end at $69.15/MWh. By Feb. 14, prices ranged from $55/MWh at Palo Verde to $75.30/MWh at Mid-C.

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California Independent System Operator demand reached 29,104 MW Feb. 13, which should be the week’s high. Northwest Power Pool demand climbed to 66,383 MW Feb. 11.

Total renewables on the CAISO grid reached 11,788 MW Feb. 11, satisfying almost 41 percent of demand. That same day, thermal generation supplied 13,697 MW—or about 47 percent—of demand, while solar sources contributed 9,417 MW, or 32.5 percent.

Working natural gas in storage was 1,882 Bcf as of Feb. 8, according to U.S. Energy Information Administration estimates. This was a net decrease of 78 Bcf compared with the previous week. The average rate of net withdrawals from storage thus far this season is 18 percent less than the five-year average.

National natural gas use increased 6 percent week over week, according to the agency. Natural gas used for power generation increased 11 percent. –Linda Dailey Paulson

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


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