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Western Price Survey

March 27, 2015
Cal-ISO Reports Reserves Adequate to Meet Summer Energy Needs

There are adequate reserves to meet summer demand peaks, Cal-ISO reported in its preliminary 2015 Summer Loads and Resources Assessment. Robert Emmert, the grid operator's manager of interconnection resources, reports drought impacts are being offset by moderate load growth and 2,135 MW of new generation, 2,066 MW of which is solar.

Solar production "significantly reduces" the need for conventional resources on peak-demand days, according to the report.

This summer, the peak-demand forecast is projected to be 47,188 MW. This is slightly less than the 47,351 MW of demand in the summer of 2014.

The grid operator reported total renewables reached 10,221 MW on March 23. The week's high for solar production was 5,849 MW, recorded March 25, which narrowly beats the record of 5,812 MW recorded March 6. Thermal generation has also been high, ramping to 15,391 MW March 26.

Still, there's no ignoring the problems the drought has created. "With less than a week left in the month of March, this water year's snowpack is expected to be the worst on record," stated the California Department of Water Resources in its recent update. The statewide snow-water equivalent is 2.4 inches as of March 26, which is 8 percent of average. This is a decrease of 1.2 inches since the March 17 measurement of 3.6 inches.

This week power prices in the West have been swayed by low values for natural gas as well as a jump in hydropower production in the Northwest (see "Power Gauge," next page). Average prices for power at Northwest hubs fell to around $10-$12/MWh for peak and $4 for off-peak on March 26 before recovering slightly at the end of the trading week (see charts at right).

Western natural gas prices dropped during the week, with Malin falling 18 cents to $2.38/MMBtu by the end of the March 19-26 trading period.

Nationally, working gas in storage reached 1,479 Bcf as of March 20, according to U.S. Energy Information Administration estimates, a net increase of 12 Bcf from the previous week. Storage levels are now 63.6 percent greater than a year ago and 11.6 percent less than the five-year average. This is the first time since March 2012 that there has been an addition to natural gas storage before the end of the heating season, which is March 31 [Linda Dailey Paulson].

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

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