Western Price Survey
Week's End Edition
Spot electricity prices in the West generally followed natural gas prices this week on a road to nowhere. Electricity prices made their usual dip Thursday for Friday and Saturday deliveries, then picked up a bit on Friday, but gains were largely in the range of 1 to 2 mills/kWh.
The trading week was a bit unusual. Following the Presidents Day holiday, trading for spot electricity in the West resumed on Tuesday. Demand was relatively modest this week, with the California Independent System Operator reporting peak load of 31,998 MW on Thursday.
Mid-Columbia peak power flirted with 60 mills/kWh most of the week, dropped to a low of 56 mills/kWh on Thursday, and rebounded to 60 mills/kWh on Friday. Off-peak power went for about 53 mills/kWh midweek, lost a mill or two in Thursday trading, and rose to a spread of 53 mills to 58 mills/kWh on Friday.
California-Oregon border peak power traded between 62 mills and 66 mills/kWh midweek, dropped to around 60 mills/kWh Thursday and sprang back to around 63 mills/kWh for Monday deliveries. Nighttime power traded at 57 mills/kWh on Friday after spending much of the week around 55 mills/kWh.
In California, at North of Path 15 and South of Path 15, peak power was at 66 mills/kWh midweek, lost two or three mills in Thursday trading, but gained them back for Monday deliveries. Off-peak power, after spreading between 46 mills and 53 mills/kWh earlier in the week, bounced up to between 54 mills and 58 mills/kWh on Friday.
High-demand power at Palo Verde went for 60 mills/kWh midweek, fell to around 56 mills/kWh Thursday, and gained around two mills in Friday trading. Off-peak power, steady at 45 mills/kWh midweek, finished Friday between 47 mills and 51 mills/kWh.
The 1,314 MW Unit No. 2 of the Palo Verde Nuclear Generating Station has been down all week, reportedly due to an oil leak, but is expected to return to service soon. The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission on Thursday downgraded the safety level of the entire 3,810 MW Palo Verde reactor, giving it a "white" safety warning for the operation of its emergency diesel generators. One of the generators, which provide power to safety systems in emergencies, was reportedly non-functional for 18 days in 2006. A white warning has low to moderate safety significance, and is not as serious as a yellow or red warning, but the downgrade does reportedly make the plant one of the two most scrutinized nuclear facilities in the U.S.
Other significant power-plant issues this week included a planned outage of the 1,020 MW Big Creek hydro project, which was curtailed by 780 MW, and an unplanned outage of the 517 MW Elk Hills facility. Elk Hills went off line in early February after an explosion there injured four workers [Chris Raphael].
Natural Gas Prices Remain All Quiet on Western Front on Mild Weather
The U.S. Energy Information Administration reported Thursday that 223 Bcf of natural gas was taken from storage for the week ending Feb. 16. Eastern states took out 151 Bcf, while the West removed 12 Bcf and producing states withdrew 60 Bcf. The news caused natural gas futures to move up on Thursday, settling at $7.27/MMBtu for March deliveries. Henry Hub futures were at $7.74/MMBtu on Friday.
The West breathed easy, though, basking in temperate weather along the coast and as a result, values for gas traded tightly all week.
At the Permian Basin, values reached a summit of $6.85/MMBtu Wednesday and deflated a few mills in Thursday and Friday trading. San Juan Basin natural gas reached $6.87/MMBtu on Wednesday, but like the Permian Basin, the commodity traded for an average of about $6.73/MMBtu on Friday.
Southern California border gas reached $7.19/MMBtu on Wednesday, but the following two days saw prices retreat 5c to 14c above $7/MMBtu.
At the California-Oregon border, where it has been snowing the past few days with more expected this weekend, Malin gas prices climbed to a high of $7.22/MMBtu in Thursday trading and lost about 4c on Friday [C. R.].
Archives of the Western Price Survey for the past year are also available online.
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