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Western Price Survey / Archives

Febuary 25, 2005
Western Trade Receives Slight Boost from Gas, Weather

A drop in temperatures in California managed to perk things up a little in the spot market for electricity toward the end of this week. Also contributing to the slight rally was a boost in the cost of natural gas. For instance, the Permian Basin price jumped up by 30 cents between Wednesday and Thursday, while the Malin price went from $5.61 to $5.96/MMBtu in the same period.

Peak power in California attracted 53.50 mills/KWh early this week, while off-peak power drew between 38 mills/KWh and 40.25 mills/KWh. On Thursday, when prices typically take a dip, daytime power costs added another mill. The price closed on Friday at the week's high of 55 mills/KWh. Off-peak power also moved up as the week wound down, ranging from 43.50 mills to 44.50 mills/KWh.

In the Southwest, Palo Verde peak-power costs ranged from 47 mills to 50.50 mills/KWh this week. Off-peak power moved up to a high of 40.25 mills/KWh on Friday after spending most of the week in the range of 34.25 mills to 37.50 mills/KWh.

Cold weather in the Northwest boosted the price of peak power at Mid-Columbia this week. Mid-C power changed hands for as much as 50.25 mills/KWh Thursday before shedding a mill the following day. Nighttime power at the hub attracted between 43 mills and 45.50 mills/KWh in the first half of the week, but gained ground in the last two days, scooting up as high as 48.25 mills/KWh for weekend deliveries.

California-Oregon border peak-power costs teetered between 49.75 mills and 52 mills/KWh this week, while off-peak power drew between 44 mills and 46 mills/KWh.

Southern California Edison's San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station Unit No. 2 remains on a forced shutdown that began in the middle of last week. Edison is hoping to get the 1,122 MW unit back on line by the end of next week. Huntington Beach No. 3 and No. 4 were off line much of this week as well. By Friday morning the 225 MW No. 3 unit was back in service, but the 227 MW Unit No. 4 remained down. Mohave No. 2 was curtailed by anywhere from 155 MW to 200 MW much of the week, but also was back on line Friday.

The California Independent System Operator peak-load figures have remained well within expectations recently. Forecasts of just under 30,000 MW were matched by the actual demand number on most days this week. Thursday saw the peak demand reach 30,466 MW.

The California Independent System Operator has started an internal investigation and placed an employee on leave after discovering a potential release of confidential data.

Email from the employee's computer is being analyzed to determine whether or not it contains data that could be used to manipulate the energy market, ISO spokesperson Stephanie McCorkle said.

Cal-ISO announced in a news release Thursday that it has reported its concerns to the California Attorney General and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

"We are taking immediate actions to identify what information has been disclosed, and what data, if any, is confidential," said Cal-ISO Board Chair Ken Wiseman. "We want to take all precautionary steps to protect the integrity of the energy market."

Cal-ISO has retained an outside counsel for the investigation. The agency did not disclose the identity of the employee under investigation [Shauna O'Donnell and Caroline J. Keough].

Gas Gains Ground in Late-Week Deals

The price of natural gas looked to be on a pretty even keel from one week to the next until this past Thursday. Though it could not be characterized as remarkable, there was noticeable movement in the cost of gas in spot-market trading that day.

After spending much of the week in the range of $5.37 to $5.54/MMBtu, Permian Basin gas rose to a high of $5.84/MMBtu in Thursday trading. By Friday the price had slipped back to between $5.60 and $5.77/MMBtu. Producing-basin gas at San Juan attracted as much as $5.45/MMBtu in the first half of the week, but ran up to $5.755/MMBtu on Thursday.

At PG&E CityGate, the cost of gas barely exceeded $6.00/MMBtu on Wednesday before finding its legs and running up to $6.31/MMBtu the next day. Friday saw the price continuing to reach that high in some trading.

Topock deliveries managed to hit $5.99/MMBtu this week, also on Thursday. This was a gain of more than a quarter from the early-week price. By Friday the price had settled at between $5.84 and $5.91/MMBtu at the hub [S. O'D.].

Western Electricity Prices
February 21 - 25, 2005
Hub Peak (heavy) Off-peak (light)
Alberta Pool (C$) 22.17-126.60 10.84-69.79
Mid-Columbia 47-50.25 43-48.25
COB 49.75-54.50 44-46
NP 15 52-55 38.25-44.50
SP 15 52-55 38-44.25
Palo Verde 47-50.50 34.25-40.25

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


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Contact Shauna O'Donnell, editor with questions regarding Price Survey Content.

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