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Western Price Survey

February 16, 2018
Western Prices Swing With Weather

This winter the West has seemed more like spring in some areas, but what few drastic temperature changes there have been have contributed to energy price swings. With colder weather on the way, more price volatility is expected the week of Feb. 19.

The latest price swings were seen at the Southern California CityGate hub. Natural gas prices at the hub gained $1.59 to $4.24/MMBtu between Feb. 8 and 13 before shedding 66 cents to close Feb. 15 at $3.58/MMBtu.

The increase “was tied to a weather change over the weekend that caught people off-guard on Monday morning,” said Jeff Richter of EnergyGPS.

“We saw temperatures go colder and intra-day sendouts shift straight up,” he said which forced more natural gas out of storage and sent markets “a hefty signal” in a short period. “With Tuesday and Wednesday sendouts expected to be above 3.0 Bcf and import capacity around 2.8 Bcf, but only 2.6 Bcf was flowing, SoCal CityGate was off to the races.”

Warmer temperatures have temporarily stifled demand but “more volatility is expected next week,” he said.

An Arctic weather system should bring below-normal temperatures to the greater Los Angeles area starting Feb. 20, while Portland and Seattle should see the coldest temperatures of the winter to date.

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California Independent System Operator grid demand reached 28,818 MW Feb. 12, which was the week’s high. Northwest Power Pool demand reached 62,443 MW the following day.

CAISO demand is forecast to hover around 29,800 MW Feb. 20 and 21.

Meanwhile, working national natural gas in storage was 1,884 Bcf as of Feb. 9, according to EIA estimates. This is a net decrease of 194 Bcf compared to the previous week.

Henry Hub natural gas spot prices fell 22 cents in Feb. 8 to 15 trading, ending at $2.49/MMBtu.

Western natural gas generally gained value in trading with prices up between 2 cents to as much as 93 cents in trading. El Paso-Permian, however, shed three cents to $2.06/MMBtu; Southern California Border lost a penny to $2.30/MMBtu.

Western average power prices reversed course with hubs adding between $6.25 and as much as $11.75. California-Oregon Border gained the most value, up $11.75 to end at $28.75/MWh.

Likewise, off-peak power values increased by between $3 and almost $10. Prices traded in a range from $12.90/MWh at Mid-Columbia to $30.95/MWh at South of Path 15.

The statewide snowpack has a 4.3-inch snow-water equivalent, which is 20 percent of the Feb. 15 average, according to the California Department of Water Resources. –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 Mavis Scanlon, editor with questions regarding Price Survey content.

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