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Western Price Survey

March 24, 2017
CAISO Renewables Reach Record

At midday on March 23, when demand on the CAISO grid hit just over 24,000 MW, the total amount of renewables at that time reached a new record, serving 56.7 percent of demand. Total renewable generation that day peaked at 12,374 MW.

That milestone followed a similar one for wind and solar on the same day. Just minutes before the total-renewables record, solar and wind combined hit a record of serving 49.2 percent of demand.

The hourly average demand at that time was 24,091 MW.

Demand peaked on the CAISO grid at 27,945 MW March 20, which should be the week’s high.

The previous record for the amount of total renewables serving demand was 56.2 percent, set May 15, 2016, when the average hourly demand was 25,443 MW.

“So the new 2017 demand-served record was a small percentage increase over 2016,” said CAISO spokesman Steven Greenlee, “but an increase nevertheless.”

It looks to be a banner year for hydro in California as well.

“We expect to see increased hydro for the summer this year, but will know more when the 2017 summer assessment is released in late April or early May,” said Greenlee. “The last record hydro year was 2011, when the snowpack was 190 percent of average on May 1. We see hydro production increasing now.”

In California, the statewide snowpack has a 45-inch snow-water equivalent, which is 160 percent of the March 24 average, according to the California Department of Water Resources.

In the Pacific Northwest, hydro production at the Bonneville Power Administration reached a peak of 14,110 MW March 19.

The plentiful hydro conditions were reflected in Western power prices. Peak power values lost between $8.90 and as much as $18.30 on average between March 17 and March 24. Mid-Columbia peak power posted the greatest loss, ending at $3.70/MWh.

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Off-peak power prices fell between $8.15 and $11.70, on average, in trading. California-Oregon Border values fell $11.70 to $7.30/MWh; however, Mid-C posted the lowest average price during trading, moving to a low of 16 cents/MWh March 23.

Meanwhile, working natural gas in storage was 2,092 Bcf as of March 17, according to U.S. Energy Information Administration estimates. This is a net decrease of 150 Bcf compared with the prior week.

Henry Hub gas spot values added 10 cents between March 16 and March 23, ending at $2.94/MMBtu.

Western natural gas prices rose between 3 and 16 cents in trading. El Paso-Permian Basin and Southern California Border natural gas tied for the greatest gains, each up 16 cents in trading to end at $2.57/MMBtu and $2.68/MMBtu, respectively [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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