Western Price Survey
March 17, 2017
Wild price swings this week may be a preview of what’s to come from shoulder season heading into summer as regional hydro and wind generation pick up.
Values in the Pacific Northwest, for example, slid significantly before ticking up at week’s end. Mid-Columbia spot off-peak power prices ranged from 60 cents/MWh to $14/MWh between March 13 and 17. A one-day boost of $10.40 left the hub at roughly $12.80/MWh by the end of trading March 17.
Mid-Columbia peak power saw a similar trajectory, recovering $13.66 between March 16 and 17 and ending at $22/MWh.
Hydro generation at the Bonneville Power Administration neared 14,000 MW throughout the week. Wind generation, meanwhile, peaked at around 4,000 MW twice during the week.
Working natural gas in storage was 2,242 Bcf as of March 10, according to U.S. Energy Information Administration estimates. This is a net decrease of 53 Bcf compared to the previous week.
Storage levels are now 9.5 percent less than a year ago and 21.4 percent greater than the five-year average.
Natural gas use increased 15 percent week over week, according to the EIA. Natural gas used for power generation jumped 12 percent compared to the previous week.
Henry Hub gas spot values shed a penny between March 9 and March 16, ending at $2.84/MMBtu.
Western natural gas prices fell lower, losing between 8 and 20 cents in trading. Stanfield natural gas posted the greatest loss, down 20 cents in trading, ending at $2.36/MMBtu.
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Warmer weather prompted Barclays analysts to lower their 2017 forecast for natural gas prices by 36 cents/MMBtu. The adjustment from $3.38/MMBtu to $3.02/MMBtu was made based on winter weather that was 9 percent warmer than usual—the second warmest on record. “A more bullish 2017 scenario is still possible but would require a warmer-than-normal summer to bail out the balances,” the analysts said in a March 16 report.
In California, demand peaked on the CAISO grid at 29,477 MW on March 14, which should be the week’s high. Total renewable generation peaked at 11,374 MW March 16.
The statewide snowpack has a 46-inch snow-water equivalent, which is 169 percent of the March 10 average, according to the California Department of Water Resources [Linda Dailey Paulson].
Archives of the Western Price Survey for the past year are also available online.
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