Western Price Survey
Week's End Edition
In hopes of saving energy, daylight savings time will begin Sunday, three weeks earlier than last year. If off-peak power prices in California are any indication, however, the move so far has not done a thing.
Last week melting snow in Malin, Ore. and pleasant temperatures in the West could have been taken as signs that spring is approaching. This week, it appeared that California may have skipped spring altogether and moved directly to summer. Over the weekend temperatures at Malin are expected to float in the 60s. On Monday, highs in Los Angeles will verge on air-conditioner levels--90 degrees.
While demand on the electrical system will likely rise, wholesale power prices in Friday trading were countered by lower natural gas values. The result was that despite the weather, peak spot electricity prices finished the week about where they started. The exception, of course, was for off-peak power, which trended higher.
North of Path 15 and South of Path 15 peak power traded around 55 mills to 58 mills/kWh on Monday. Values dropped to a low of 52 mills/kWh in SP15 on Thursday for the lower-demand Friday-Saturday package. In trading today, however, peak power went for about 58 mills/kWh.
California off-peak values, between 41 mills and 47 mills/kWh on Monday, steadily rose throughout the week and went for about 50 mills/kWh in Friday trading.
Palo Verde peak power finished the week at about 58 mills/kWh, near where it traded Monday. Off-peak power rose to 47 mills/kWh after going as low as 39 mills on Monday.
At the California-Oregon border, daytime power traded around 54 mills/kWh on Friday, about the level it stayed most of the week, save for a drop of a few mills in Thursday trading. Off-peak power traded tightly between 45 mills and 49 mills/kWh for the week.
Mid-Columbia high-demand power went nowhere this week, and was steady for the most part around 50 mills/kWh. Nighttime power traded at 45 mills/kWh for Monday deliveries, also reflecting little movement from daily trading values.
The California Independent System Operator reported peak load on the system this week at 31,581 MW on Tuesday. Generation curtailments were listed at 6,251 MW on Friday, but most of them were planned outages. As of Thursday, significant planned curtailments included the 493 MW Unit No. 7 of the Redondo Beach Generating Station, the 775 MW Unit No. 2 of the Ormond Beach Generating Station, the 317 MW Unit No. 6 of the Pittsburg power plant, the 674 MW Units No. 6 and No. 7 of the Contra Costa power plant, and the 1,020 MW Big Creek Hydro project, which was curtailed by 610 MW [Chris Raphael].
Natural Gas Values in Free-Fall as Mercury Moves Higher
Natural gas values went below $6/MMBtu this week in some critical basins that supply the West with fuel for electricity generation.
On Thursday, the U.S. Energy Information Administration reported that for the week ending March 2, approximately 102 Bcf was removed from storage in the contiguous U.S. Eastern states gobbled up 78 Bcf, the West took out 18 Bcf and producing states took out 6 Bcf.
Prices at the Permian Basin, which started the week between $6.42 and $6.65/MMBtu, tumbled to between $5.88 and $6.09/MMBtu for weekend deliveries.
San Juan Basin gas was priced between $5.74 and $6/MMBtu today, after trading around $6.50/MMBtu on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Southern California border gas also took a fall. It was valued a bit above $6.80/MMBtu most of the week, but by Friday it was going for about $6.15/MMBtu.
In a March 1 press release, Pacific Gas & Electric said its natural gas bills in March are expected to drop 18 percent compared to last month. PG&E said its residential customers can expect to pay $17.20 less for natural gas in March 2007 compared to February 2007. The forecast natural gas bill for March 2007 also represents an 11 percent decrease from March 2006 [C. R.].
Archives of the Western Price Survey for the past year are also available online.
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