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Western Price Survey / Archives

April 1, 2005
Gas Nudges Prices Up in End-of-Week Trading

A well-earned spate of warm weather moved across California on Tuesday, drawing down the demand for power and keeping a lid on the price of electricity in the state. Both the northern and southern halves of the state experienced dry and sunny weather in the early part of the week, and spot electricity prices lost ground following last week's late surge.

The peak-time price north of Path 15 topped out on Wednesday at 60.25 mills/KWh after opening the week in a range of 58.25 mills to 59.50 mills/KWh. The price of power at the hub for Friday deliveries matched the Monday price, bookending the week's trading. Low-demand power cost between 41 mills and 43.75 mills/KWh on the daily market throughout much of the week, jumping up to 49.25 mills/KWh for next week deliveries on the strength of natural gas prices.

South of Path 15, power costs also hovered near the 60 mills/KWh mark at midweek. SP15 power packages attracted between 57 mills and 59.25 mills much of the rest of the week, with just a few transactions coming in below that range. Nighttime power costs in the southern half of the state mirrored those in the NP15 region this week, treading water at between 41 mills and 43.50 mills/KWh before plunging ahead to a high of 49 mills/KWh in Friday activity.

Mid-Columbia power traded for as much as 56.50 mills/KWh on Monday before slipping down to a low of 49 mills/KWh in Thursday dealing. Off-peak power at the hub followed closely behind, trading for between 44 mills and 45.75 mills/KWh at midweek, down about 5 mills from Monday's price. The price for low-demand power scooted up for next-week deliveries, reaching 50.50 mills/KWh at the end of the week.

All three units at the Palo Verde Nuclear Generating Station are currently running at full capacity, but the 1,270 MW Unit No. 2 will be ramped down over this weekend for planned maintenance and refueling. The facility should be out of commission for about 35 days. Other nuclear facilities in the West were at 100 percent output this week.

The price of Palo Verde power on the daily market managed to stick to a spread between 52.50 mills and 55.25 mills/KWh this week. The price for nighttime power at the Southwest hub barely moved at all this week. Off-peak power drew between 37.50 mills and 38.75 mills/KWh on Monday, slipped down 1 mill in midweek trading, but leapt up to a high of 45 mills/KWh on Friday.

In other news, at long last, San Francisco's plan to construct a new power plant within its borders and shut down the aged Hunters Point and Potrero facilities may finally be coming to fruition. The city this week filed a supplement to its project proposal with the California Energy Commission in which it detailed the confirmed site where the plant would be built. The location of the facility has been an open question for more than two years.

San Francisco has been searching for an acceptable site for the 145 MW facility comprised of three gas-fired turbines it received from the state's energy crisis-related settlement with Williams Cos. The project will be built on a four-acre city-owned parcel of land adjacent to a new municipal light rail vehicle maintenance facility in the Potrero District. A fourth turbine received in the Williams deal is slated for installation on San Francisco International Airport property [Shauna O'Donnell].

Natural Gas Rides Oil Coattails

Forecasts of a "super-spike" in the price of oil by Goldman Sachs this week sent a shiver through the natural gas market. The commodities trading firm suggested that oil may rise as high as $105 per barrel this year. Though well below that level, this week's crude oil price topped $57 on Friday, encouraging a upswell in the price of natural gas for May on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The cost of May gas on the last day of March settled at $7.653/MMBtu.

In Western region spot markets, gas hit a high of $7.415/MMBtu at PG&E CityGate on Thursday. Southern California border gas trailed that price but also exceeded the $7 mark, closing at $7.02/MMBtu.

The producing basin price moved up steadily this week. Permian Basin gas opened on Monday trading in the range of $6.31 to $6.40/MMBtu before running up to $6.92/MMBtu in Thursday dealing. San Juan gas topped out at $6.61/MMBtu that same day [S. O'D.].

Western Electricity Prices
March 28 - April 1, 2005
Hub Peak (heavy) Off-peak (light)
Alberta Pool (C$) 10.37-202.07 10.37-102.74
Mid-Columbia 49-56.50 43-50.50
COB 51.95-58.50 43-49.50
NP 15 55-60.25 41-49.25
SP 15 55.50-60.75 41-49
Palo Verde 52.50-56.25 36.50-45

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 Shauna O'Donnell, editor with questions regarding Price Survey Content.

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