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Western Price Survey

Week's End Edition
March 25, 2011
Off-Peak Prices Continue Plummeting; Peak Prices Remain Mixed

Pacific Northwest peak power prices dipped by week's end, while California prices struggled to remain steady another week as soft demand persisted.

During the week, spot prices for daytime power at North and South of Path 15 varied only a couple of dollars. This static pricing barely kept the hubs' average prices in the black during the Friday-to-Friday trading period.

Power demand throughout March on the Cal-ISO grid has remained around 29,000 MW. By Thursday, March 31, use levels in California should start inching toward the 30,000 MW mark.

Here's how average daytime power prices fared in the Friday-to-Friday trading period spanning March 18 to March 25:

  • California-Oregon Border: Down about $2.65 to $26.96/MWh.
  • Mid-Columbia: Down $4.80 to $24.13/MWh.
  • South of Path 15: Up roughly 25 cents to $33.09/MWh.
  • North of Path 15: Up about 5 cents, ending at $33/MWh.
  • Palo Verde: Ended at $28/MWh, down $2.
  • Average off-peak power prices continued to fall in tandem with the rain that has inundated the West Coast, as plenty of hydro in the region is available during light-load conditions. With lots of hydro and low demand, prices at Mid-C and COB in particular have been just barely positive at times (see chart). Palo Verde, meanwhile, posted a nine-year low for nighttime power -- $7.75/MWh. Prices for off-peak in Palo Verde have not been that low since June of 2002, according to Intercontinental Exchange data. South of Path 15, meanwhile, fell to a low of $10.50, a price it has not experienced since last year's June runoff.

    Domestic spot natural gas prices pushed higher this week on colder temperatures in major U.S. population centers, particularly the Northeast. Henry Hub spot prices traded at $4.18/MMBtu on March 23, a gain of 33 cents over the previous Wednesday. By Friday the hub was trading for an average of $4.27/MMBtu.

    Western natural gas values gained during the week. By Friday, March 25, Southern California Border gas increased 25 cents over the previous Friday, closing at $4.13/MMBtu. PG&E CityGate gas was up 21 cents to close at $4.48/MMBtu, and Malin gas increased 18 cents to end at $4.15/MMBtu.

    What's ahead: The San Francisco area should have dry conditions starting Monday, with continued dry, warm weather through the week. Some inland areas may reach the 70s by Wednesday. A warming trend is expected throughout the greater Los Angeles area, with temperatures exceeding seasonal norms Wednesday and Thursday, reaching a 77-degree high Thursday. The situation in the Northwest is a bit more uncertain. Portland forecasters are calling for a warmer, drier week, but more wet weather appears equally likely throughout Washington and Oregon for the period [Linda Dailey Paulson].

    Western Electricity Prices
    Week's End: March 21 -25, 2011
    Hub Peak (heavy) Off-peak (light)
    Alberta Pool (C$) 28.77-983.51 15.23-41.34
    Mid-Columbia 16-28.75 1.50-18.50
    COB 24.75-30.25 5.50-15
    NP 15* 32-33.50 15.50-18.25
    SP 15* 32.75-34.50 10.50-18.25
    Palo Verde 25-29 7.75-17.50

    * Prices represent both day-ahead locational marginal prices (financial swaps, or EZ Gen DA LMPs) and quasi-swap prices (EZ Gen) as reported by ICE.

    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.

    Please contact with questions or comments about this site.

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

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