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Western Price Survey

March 11, 2016
Northwest Power Prices Dip; Spring Runoff Questions Remain

About this time last year, snowpack runoff was already in progress in the northernmost reaches of the Pacific Northwest.

Whether that will be repeated this year "is still the million-dollar question," said Kevin Berghoff, senior hydrologist with the Northwest River Forecast Center.

Hydro generation at the Bonneville Power Administration reached 13,702 MW March 9. Nighttime power values in the Pacific Northwest responded by falling below $10/MWh.

Mid-Columbia off-peak values fell $6.05 on average to $5/MWh in March 4 to March 11 trading. In contrast, South of Path 15 added 20 cents to end at $16.20/MWh March 11. Prices Friday ranged from $5/MWh at Mid-C to $18.40/MWh at North of Path 15.

Similarly, Palo Verde peak power values fell $2.30 to $15/MWh, while South of Path 15 added 95 cents to reach $21.45. Prices ranged from $11.50 at Mid-C to $21.45 at South of Path 15.

Working natural gas in storage was 2,479 Bcf as of March 4, according to U.S. Energy Information Administration estimates. This is a net decrease of 57 Bcf compared to the previous week. Storage levels are now 58.1 percent greater than a year ago and 41.5 percent greater than the five-year average.

Henry Hub gas spot values halted their descent, adding 14 cents in Thursday-to-Thursday trading to end at $1.70/MMBtu March 10.

Western natural gas average values gained between 3 and 13 cents. PG&E CityGate added 13 cents to reach $1.89/MMBtu in trading.

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Demand peaked on the Cal-ISO grid at 29,108 MW March 7, which should be the week's high. Total renewables production on the Cal-ISO grid reached 10,126 MW March 8. Solar generation reached a record-high instantaneous peak output of 6,804 MW March 9, breaking the 6,661 MW Feb. 29 record.

The California snow-water equivalent measured 22 inches, or 83 percent of the March 10 average, according to the California Department of Water Resources.

Wetter conditions are in the current six-day forecast, but whether these storms exceed expectations remains to be seen. "Mother Nature is not living up to predictions by some that a 'Godzilla' El Niño would produce much more precipitation than usual this winter," said DWR Director Mark Cowin in a recent press statement [Linda Dailey Paulson].

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


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Contact Chris Raphael, editor with questions regarding Price Survey content.

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