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Western Price Survey

March 18, 2016
California Water Conditions Improve

Storms across California in January and early March increased water levels in state reservoirs, but the drought is not over, according to the California Department of Water Resources.

"Although California is on track to end the winter season with near-average conditions, one such season does not compensate for four prior years of drought," said the agency in a March 17 news release. The state should be "prepared for the possibility of a dry 2017."

Shasta and Oroville dams are now storing water at levels slightly greater than historical averages, according to DWR.

Flows have likely peaked, noted EnergyGPS analysts in a March 15 report. Should storms add more water, there could be insufficient storage capacity.

The latest California snow-water equivalent measured 25.3 inches, or 92 percent of the March 17 average, according to DWR.

Working natural gas in storage was 2,478 Bcf as of March 11, according to U.S. Energy Information Administration estimates. This is a net decrease of 1 Bcf versus the previous week. Storage levels are now 67.4 percent greater than a year ago and 48.3 percent greater than the five-year average.

Henry Hub gas spot values continued rising, adding 13 cents in Thursday-to-Thursday trading to end at $1.83/MMBtu March 17.

Likewise, Western natural gas gained between 10 and 22 cents in trading. Sumas posted the greatest gain, up 22 cents to $1.55/MMBtu.

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Western peak power prices rose in March 11 to March 18 trading. South of Path 15 values ticked up 80 cents to an average of $22.25/MWh, while Palo Verde prices jumped $5.55 to $20.50/MWh. Prices ranged from $14.10/MWh at Mid-C to $22.25/MWh at SP15.

Nighttime power values also moved higher. Prices Friday ranged from $11.95/MWh at Mid-C to $17.30/MWh at Palo Verde.

Demand peaked on the Cal-ISO grid at 28,922 MW March 16, which should be the week's high. Total renewables production on the Cal-ISO grid reached 10,461 MW March 14. Solar generation reached a record-high instantaneous peak output of 6,835 MW March 16, surpassing the March 9 record of 6,808 MW.

April temperatures may be above normal in the West, according to a March 17 forecast from the National Weather Service. Below-median precipitation is forecast for the Pacific Northwest in the month ahead, with "much of the southern half" of the continent expecting above-median precipitation [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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