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Western Price Survey / Archives

February 23, 2000
Power Prices Sink on Warm Weather and Rains

Prices for energy dropped throughout the Western region this week, mainly because of continued warm weather and intermittent rain storms in the Pacific Northwest and Northern California. Adding to the downward pressure were significant decreases in natural gas prices everywhere except Alberta. The fuel price erosion largely reflected lessening demand in the region, but also reduced expectations of price volatility in other parts of the nation.

The California Power Exchange did not fluctuate all that much this week, hanging in the 30.5 mills to 31.6 mills/KWh range for daytime power and barely moving off 24 mills/KWh for off-peak.

The real price erosion was recorded at bilateral hubs, particularly Mid-Columbia, which dropped from over 30 mills on late trades last week before the holiday to about 25 mills/KWh midweek. The California/Oregon Border price also slipped from 30.5 mills to28 mills/KWh for Thursday deliveries.

Off-peak prices are still considered relatively high, but fell substantially to the 22 mills to 23.5 mills vicinity at Mid-C and around 24.5 mills/KWh at COB. "Finally," one scheduler said.

Most traders pointed to increasing hydroelectric flows at night as being responsible for the change, although lower gas costs contributed.

Palo Verde and Four Corners fell from above 30 mills to the 28 mills to 29 mills/KWh range on Wednesday trading. Off-peak slipped to the 21 mills to 22 mills/KWh bracket.

In the Southwest, temperatures were normal and only a few generation outages were reported. Four Corners No. 4 tripped on Wednesday morning, but the loss of 760 MW did not seem to stir real time markets or shake bids into the Cal-PX. The unit is expected back by Friday. The San Juan No. 1 unit climbed back to full power on Wednesday. No other unscheduled outages were listed and the region is utilizing its full complement of nuclear facilities.

The Alberta Power Pool reverted to its usual pattern of some price volatility on Monday, followed by steadier pricing on lower than expected loads [Arthur O'Donnell].

Western Non-Firm Electricity Prices
Hub Peak (heavy) Off-peak (light)
Alberta Pool (C$) 37-71.4 24-42
California PX (WAC) 30.5-31.6 23.4-24.7
Mid-Columbia 25-30 22-23.5
COB 28-30.5 24-25
Palo Verde 29-32 21-22

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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