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Western Price Survey

March 10, 2017
California Snowpack Increases Again

The California snowpack continues building, with the water year 2017 snowpack in several regions promising to break records.

The statewide snowpack has a 47-inch snow-water equivalent, which is 178 percent of the March 10 average, according to the California Department of Water Resources.

“Of particular note, the snowpack in the Kern River watershed is at 262% of its March 1 average and the snow in the Owens River basins is at 272% of the March 1 average. Snow gaugers in these regions (and others) are reporting record-breaking measurements for individual courses,” according to a March 8 DWR report. The agency adds that many of the snow-surveying cabins “are buried to the top in this epic snowpack.”

Statewide runoff in February was at a rate of almost 400 percent of average, with rivers in the San Joaquin and North Lahontan basins at roughly 600 percent of the February average.

Working natural gas in storage was 2,295 Bcf as of March 3, according to U.S. Energy Information Administration estimates. This is a net decrease of 68 Bcf compared to the previous week.

Storage levels are now 7.7 percent less than a year ago and 18.8 percent greater than the five-year average.

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The Pacific region is the only area with inventory below the five-year average. The region is now 26 Bcf less than the five-year average, and the EIA reports deficits have declined in recent weeks.

Henry Hub gas spot values rose 26 cents between March 2 and March 9, ending at $2.85/MMBtu.

Western natural gas prices followed suit, adding between 13 and 23 cents in trading. El Paso-San Juan Basin and Sumas natural gas posted the greatest gains, each up 23 cents in trading to end at $2.61 and $2.57/MMBtu, respectively.

Western peak power prices added as much as $9/MWh in the March 3 to March 10 trading period. South of Path 15 jumped $9, ending at $27.70/MWh.

Average nighttime power prices varied. SP15 added $3.30 to reach $22/MWh, while Mid-Columbia dropped $5.90 to an average of $10.85/MW. At the end of trading, California-Oregon Border off-peak power was even with last week’s values.

Throughout 2016, a total of 5.13 billion MWh of wholesale power was sold, which is a 3.4 percent increase from the previous year, according to a March 8 Enerfax report based on FERC data [Linda Dailey Paulson].

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 Chris Raphael, editor with questions regarding Price Survey content.

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