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Western Price Survey

March 31, 2017
Erratic Power-Price Swings Mark Week

Western power prices saw sharp swings throughout the week as strong renewables production continued.

Although power values initially appeared to be heading lower, similar to last week, peak power prices ticked up between $7.80 and as much as $16.75 in a single day’s trading between March 30 and March 31.

At Mid-Columbia, spot prices traded between a low of -$2/MWh and a high of $20/MWh during the week. The hub ended at an average price of $15.95/MWh March 31. Nighttime spot prices at the hub ranged from -$8/MWh to 25 cents/MWh in the week, and ended at -$2.50/MWh.

By week’s end, Pacific Northwest peak prices added between $11 and $12, while other hubs added between $1.70 and as much as $6.45.

Hydro production at the Bonneville Power Administration reached a peak of 13,650 MW March 24. Periodic curtailments by the Bonneville Power Administration continued this week, with 12,501 MWh of unspecified generation curtailed. The total curtailment for the year to date is now 24,279 MWh.

Total renewables on the CAISO grid reached 12,930 MW March 27. Solar continues to set records in California, and this week was no exception. A new solar instantaneous peak of 9,676 MW was reached March 28, topping a previous peak set March 11.

Meanwhile, working natural gas in storage was 2,049 Bcf as of March 24, according to U.S. Energy Information Administration estimates. This is a net decrease of 43 Bcf compared to the previous week.

Henry Hub gas spot values added 13 cents between March 23 and 30, ending at $3.07/MMBtu.

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Western natural gas prices added from 2 to 14 cents in trading. Alberta natural gas saw the greatest gains, up 14 cents, to $1.98/MMBtu.

In California, the statewide snowpack has a 46-inch snow-water equivalent, which is 164 percent of the March 30 average, according to the California Department of Water Resources.

Month-to-date river flows south of the Merced River, as of March 28, are more than 200 percent of average, according to the agency. Other rivers are running roughly between 125 and 195 percent of average.

“Runoff patterns are being affected by snowmelt in the lower elevations and late winter rains,” the agency said in its weekly forecast.

The 1,190 MW Columbia Generating Station in Washington state continued powering down in anticipation of scheduled refueling and maintenance. The plant is slated to be fully off line starting May 13. The unit was operating at 93 percent of capacity March 31, according to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission [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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