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Western Price Survey

March 30, 2018
Analysts Watching Idaho Power, Powerex as They Enter EIM

As Idaho Power and Powerex prepare to enter the Western energy imbalance market, analysts are watching for any potential impacts for renewables on the California Independent System Operator grid. Both entities fully enter the market April 4.

“The key element to any participant joining is how much transmission capacity are they going to be bringing to the table,” wrote EnergyGPS analysts in a March 30 report. “This is important to the CAISO operators as it will allow more excess renewable generation to leave their footprint and find a home elsewhere.”

Powerex expects to offer the EIM roughly 300 MW of bi-directional transmission, according to CAISO, while Idaho Power offers between 390 and 478 MW of transfer capability to the NV Energy system.

Although this may help reduce renewable-energy curtailments, reality may be more complex, said Jeffrey Richter, principal and owner, EnergyGPS. Without full bi-directional parity, the system will still be bottlenecked by California renewables exports, he said.

Recent CAISO grid solar and wind curtailments have ranged from 200 MWh to about 1,600 to 1,700 MWh between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m., according to CAISO.

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This week, CAISO renewable generation reached 13,311 MW March 26, supplying roughly 48.4 percent of demand. Solar production reached 10,177 MW March 28.

Meanwhile, working natural gas in storage was 1,383 Bcf as of March 23, according to U.S. Energy Information Administration estimates. This is a net decrease of 63 Bcf compared to the previous week.

The natural gas heating season traditionally ends March 31.

Henry Hub natural gas spot prices added 2 cents at the close of the March 22 to March 28 trading period, ending at $2.64/MMBtu. Markets were closed March 30 in observance of Good Friday.

Western natural gas prices generally moved between 5 cents and as much as $1.24 lower in trading. Southern California CityGate lost the most, down $1.24 to $2.42/MMBtu. El Paso-Permian and Alberta natural gas were exceptions, gaining 19 cents and 12 cents, respectively.

Western peak power values dipped between 80 cents and as much as $16.35 in March 22 through March 29 trading. South of Path 15 lost the most in trading, down $16.35 to $24.60/MWh.

Pacific Northwest off-peak power values shed between 40 cents and as much as $2.50 in trading. Palo Verde nighttime power posted the greatest gain in trading, up $2.75 to $23/MWh.

CAISO grid demand reached 28,044 MW March 29; however, the week’s high should occur March 30, when demand is anticipated to reach 28,145 MW. –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 Mavis Scanlon, editor with questions regarding Price Survey content.

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