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Western Price Survey

February 22, 2019
Supply Constraints, Energy Price Volatility Continue in the West

Western natural gas prices continue to show volatility, with “constrained” being the operative word.

For yet another week, regional energy prices fluctuated based on constricted regional natural gas supplies and weather-prompted demand.

Natural gas supplies at the California-Arizona border were diminished after Mojave Pipeline Co. declared a force majeure Feb. 19. An equipment failure at its Topock Compressor Station Unit 3 caused the company to reduce capacity through its Segment 3000 from 463,000 Dth/day to 346,000 Dth/day. The force majeure is “in effect until further notice,” according to the company.

El Paso natural gas prices varied in Feb. 14 to Feb. 21 trading. While El Paso-Permian natural gas dropped 29 cents to $1.80/MMBtu, El Paso-San Juan Basin gas gained 36 cents to reach $2.74/MMBtu.

Variations were also seen in California, where SoCal CityGate gas gained $5.01 to reach $12.95/MMBtu, the greatest price gain among Western hubs, and Southern California Border shed 11 cents to end at $6.31/MMBtu.

Southern California Gas Co. issued a systemwide natural gas generation curtailment Feb. 19 based on low temperatures and higher demand forecasts effective from 12 a.m. Feb. 20 through 11:59 p.m. Feb. 21. Additionally, it issued a curtailment watch that ended at the same time.

The utility called a voluntary systemwide curtailment between 12 a.m. Feb. 22 and 11:59 p.m. Feb. 25. Also, low operational flow orders were issued throughout the week. Low OFOs have been announced every day by SoCal Gas since Feb. 1, save for Feb. 16.

Among other Western hubs, Stanfield natural gas saw the greatest drop in trading. It fell $2.27 to $5.37/MMBtu.

Western daytime power prices generally lost between $2.60 and as much as $21.20 in the abbreviated trading period. Mid-Columbia peak power lost the most, ending at $87.80/MWh. Palo Verde was the exception, gaining $17.75 to reach $85.75/MWh.

No trades were posted Jan. 18. Markets were closed in observance of Presidents Day.

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By Feb. 21, Western peak power prices ranged from $84.25/MWh at North of Path 15 to $89.10/MWh at the California-Oregon Border.

Off-peak power prices generally gained between $1.60 and as much as $15.75. Mid-Columbia was the exception, down $1.45 to $73.85/MWh. Palo Verde gained the most, jumping $15.75 to $70.75/MWh.

California Independent System Operator demand reached 29,758 MW Feb. 20, which should be the week’s high. Imports supplied roughly 34 percent of demand that day.

The 1,200-MW Columbia Generating Station nuclear plant temporarily reduced output Feb. 16 to perform control-rod adjustments. This maintenance task helped optimize core reactivity and is conducted several times during each two-year fuel cycle, according to Energy Northwest spokesman Mike Paoli. –Linda Dailey Paulson

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


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