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Western Price Survey / Archives

March 4, 2005
Western Prices Chase Their Tails

Compared with last week, when daytime power at the California-Oregon border opened the week in the range of 49.75 mills to 50 mills/KWh, this Monday's price was recorded as high as 54 mills/KWh. Mid-Columbia peak power drew as much as 51 mills/KWh to start the week, a gain of 3 mills over last week's price. The price of power on the spot market scooted up at COB on Thursday, moving for as much as 56 mills/KWh.

Mid-C off-peak power costs ranged between 41 mills and 47.25 mills/KWh this week. COB off-peak power opened the week at a high of 47.50 mills/KWh, but generally hovered closer to the 44 mills/KWh mark throughout the week.

On the whole, peak power in California changed hands during the first half of this week for a few mills higher than last week. North of Path 15, high-demand power pulled down as much as 57.50 mills on Monday. Later in the week the price weakened, with NP15 power slipping to around 55 mills/KWh. Off-peak power in the northern part of the state ranged from 38.75 mills to 42 mills/KWh much of the week. The price did skip up to 46 mills/KWh on Friday for power scheduled for next-week delivery.

In Southern California, power costs also ran 2 to 3 mills higher than last week. After changing hands for between 55.25 mills and 57.25 mills/KWh on Monday, peak-power prices south of Path 15 wilted slightly, closing out the week at between 54 mills and 56.25 mills/KWh. Off-peak power at SP15 drew as much as 47 mills/KWh on Friday after opening the week at a low of 38 mills/KWh.

Palo Verde peak-time power drew between 50 mills and 51.50 mills/KWh on Monday, edged up as high as 52.75 mills/KWh the following day, then retreated back to the 49 mills to 51 mills/KWh zone the rest of the week. Off-peak power at PV clung close to the 35 mills/KWh mark this week. The price for nighttime power rallied on Friday, moving up as high as 42.50 mills/KWh for deliveries scheduled for Sunday and Monday.

California power plants were in fairly good health this week. Few units with capacity of more than 250 MW were out of service. The largest unit off line this week--as well as last week--was Southern California Edison's San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station's 1,122 MW No. 2 facility. It is expected to return to service this weekend. All other nuclear units in the West were operating at full capacity as of Wednesday.

Units out of service this week included the 231 MW La Paloma No. 3 plant, three facilities at Redondo and the 755 MW Moss Landing Unit No. 7, which tripped off line unexpectedly on Monday. The California Independent System Operator's outage list showed 405 MW of power was unavailable to California from the Four Corners coal-fired plant in New Mexico on Thursday evening and on Friday.

Transmission constraints in the Western Interconnect this week included a derate of the California-Oregon Intertie because of Northwest resource limitations. The COI was limited to 4,700 MW in the north-to-south direction much of the week. The Pacific DC Intertie was deenergized from 6 to 10 am Tuesday because the Sylmar No. 2 converter was out of service during that time [Shauna O'Donnell].

Gas Prices Peak, then Peter

The strong rally in the price of crude oil this week seemed to bring a delayed reaction to the price of natural gas on the Western spot market. The start of the new month on Tuesday drove the price of oil on the New York Mercantile Exchange up nearly $1.50, to $53 per barrel for April delivery. Gas prices caught up a bit on Thursday, as California delivery points recorded healthy gains. The increase was tem-pered somewhat by news of healthy quantities of stored gas out of the Energy Information Administra-tion.

After opening the week in a range of $6.22 to $6.25/MMBtu, Topock delivery prices sagged to $6.10/MMBtu on Wednesday. The price did rally the following day, however, moving up to $6.33/MMBtu. PG&E CityGate gas ran up to $6.73/MMBtu on Thursday, about a dime higher than at the beginning of the week. The price at the hub dropped down to between $6.45 and $6.52/MMBtu on Friday.

The EIA numbers for the week ending February 25 showed a withdrawal from underground storage of 107 Bcf. The producing basins currently are storing 551 Bcf, 42 percent more gas than the five-year average of 388 Bcf. Western storage is up 16 percent from the five-year average, 224 Bcf compared with 191 Bcf [S. O'D.].

Western Electricity Prices
February 28 - March 4, 2005
Hub Peak (heavy) Off-peak (light)
Alberta Pool (C$) 10.34-246.07 10.37-51.87
Mid-Columbia 45.50-51.50 41-47.75
COB 50.50-56 41.50-47.50
NP 15 54.25-57.50 38.75-46
SP 15 53.50-57.25 38-47
Palo Verde 49-52.75 34.50-42.50

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

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