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Western Price Survey / Archives

February 18, 2005
Quick Pick-Me-Up Gives Way to Slide in Western Markets

The power-trading schedule was compressed this week in anticipation of next Monday's Presidents' Day holiday. Packages changed hands on Tuesday for Wednesday - Thursday deliveries, while Wednesday transactions were for electricity to be delivered Friday and Saturday. Normally, midweek deals do not include power for weekend delivery. This shift in the schedule was reflected in the price boost recorded Thursday, when power costs generally sag.

Peak power costs south of Path 15 led the Western pack this week. After opening on Monday within the narrow band of 51.25 mills and 52 mills/KWh, the price moved up as high as 55 mills/KWh the following day and lost 1 mill in Wednesday activity, but recovered it Thursday. Off-peak power stuck close to the 40 mills/KWh mark during the first half of the week. Thursday's price jumped up by 5 to 6 mills for deliveries scheduled for early next week. The cost of off-peak power retreated back to the 40 mills/KWh mark Friday.

In Northern California, the price for daytime power peaked at 55 mills/KWh on Tuesday, a gain of 3 to 4 mills over Monday's price. Wednesday brought with it a slight deflation in the price, as peak-time power topped out at 53.50 mills/KWh that day, while a mill or two was added to that price in Thursday trading. Nighttime power in Northern California tracked SP15 prices closely, opening the week at 39.75 mills/KWh and then moving as high as 46.75 mills/KWh on Thursday. As in the southern half of the state, off-peak prices sank on Friday, dropping back in the vicinity of 40 mills/KWh.

A deluge of rain and snow in the northern half of the state did little to push up prices as temperatures remained seasonal to warm, despite the precipitation.

Southwest power prices appeared to be little affected by the continuing outage at the Palo Verde nuclear facility. Unit No. 1 at the generating station was taken off line in the middle of last week for unscheduled repair work to secondary breaker components. The 1,270 MW unit should be ramping back up to full power sometime this weekend, an Arizona Public Service spokesperson said. APS operates the facility for a consortium of owners.

Peak power in the PV region drew a low of 47 mills/KWh on Monday before tacking on a couple of mills the following day. Off-peak power in the Southwest region changed hands for a steady 35 mills to 36 mills/KWh much of the week, jumping up to a high of 41.50 mills/KWh briefly in Thursday trading.

Mid-Columbia power prices took their customary position at the bottom of the cost tally, with daytime prices ranging from 46 mills to 48.75 mills during the first three days of the week. Off-peak prices trailed close behind, hitting a high of 45.25 mills/KWh on Wednesday. Peak-time power at Mid-C changed hands for as much as 50 mills/KWh on Thursday for next-Sunday and Monday delivery, but dropped down closer to the 48 mills/KWh mark in Friday dealing.

The California Independent System Operator recorded peak loads a shade over 30,000 MW so far this week, topping out at 31,303 MW early Tuesday evening.

The unexpected outage of the 1,122 MW San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station's No. 2 unit late Tuesday afternoon did nothing to boost the price of power in the region. The unit is reportedly down for inspection and possible repair on a cooling-water-system valve. It is not yet known when the facility will return to service. The 900 MW Intermountain facility in Utah was on a planned outage all this week as well [Shauna O'Donnell].

Gas Costs Contained by Flat Fundamentals

While debate rages on at the nation's Capitol over which federal or state agencies have jurisdiction over siting of liquefied natural gas terminals on the US coast, conventional natural gas continues to meet the bulk of the country's needs.

The price of spot gas tripped downward at the end of this week on weakened fundamentals and an Energy Information Administration report that showed healthy gas-storage numbers. The current storage figure of 1,808 Bcf is comfortably above last year's mark of 1,480 Bcf and 20 percent above the five-year average.

The Permian producing basin price dropped to a week's low of $5.2925/MMBtu at the end of this week, down from a high of $5.64/MMBtu recorded on Wednesday. A similar pattern revealed itself at San Juan, where a midweek high of $5.48/MMBtu gave way to a low of $5.265/MMBtu on Friday.

PG&E CityGate gas costs led the pack this week, topping out at $6.065/MMBtu on Wednesday before dropping a couple dimes at the end of the week [S. O'D].

Western Electricity Prices
February 14-18, 2005
Hub Peak (heavy) Off-peak (light)
Alberta Pool (C$) 20.74-190.62 10.84-163.08
Mid-Columbia 46-50.50 40-48
COB 49.25-52 41.75-49
NP 15 51.75-55 39.75-45.50
SP 15 51.25-55 39-47.75
Palo Verde 47-50 35.25-41.50

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


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