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Western Price Survey

Week's End Edition
April 1, 2011
Power Prices Recover From Lows

Despite a midweek tumble, Western power prices shot up Friday from what had been record low prices.

At midweek, Mid-Columbia off-peak power fell to a low of -$3/MWh and Palo Verde skidded to $6/MWh -- a low not seen in years. By Friday, April 1, Mid-C off-peak traded at an average of $12.76/MWh while Palo Verde came in at around $24.65/MWh.

In the Friday-to-Friday trading period from March 26 to April 1, here's how average peak power prices fared:

  • South of Path 15: Up about $2.70 to $35.80/MWh.
  • Mid-C: Up about $3.90 to $28/MWh.
  • California-Oregon Border: Up about $5.30 to $32.25/MWh.
  • Palo Verde: Up $8.50 to roughly $36.50/MWh.
  • North of Path 15: Recorded no trades for April 1, but prices have remained steadily in the $33 to $34/MWh range much of the week.
  • Hydro generation has been plentiful in the Northwest, with the Bonneville Power Administration reporting peak hydro exceeding 14,000 MW for several days.

    Meanwhile, in California, signs point to surplus hydro available this spring, with snowpack water content in the state 165 percent of average as of April 1.

    Domestic spot natural gas prices were nominally lower this week following the year's first storage injection. An addition of 12 Bcf increased storage to 1.624 Tcf as of March 25, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

    Henry Hub spot prices traded at $4.25/MMBtu on March 30, a drop of 7 cents over the previous Wednesday, but by Friday the hub was trading for an average of $4.32/MMBtu. By Friday, April 1, Southern California Border gas gained 8 cents over the previous Friday, closing at $4.21/MMBtu. PG&E CityGate gas fell a dime to close at $4.38/MMBtu, and Malin gas lost 3 cents to end at $4.12/MMBtu.

    The Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant's Unit No. 2 remained at 35 percent output April 1 after plant operators manually shut it down March 26. The action came in response to the loss of a main feedwater pump that shut down after water leaked onto its control console. At the time of the incident, the plant had been operating at 88 percent. Cooling was shifted to the auxiliary feedwater system, according to the plant's report to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

    What's ahead: Temperatures in the Pacific Northwest should be in the mid-50s during the week as a front pushes into the area Monday from the Gulf of Alaska. Rain should linger through Wednesday, with drier conditions expected around Thursday. Another system may reach the region before Friday, April 8. Portland on March 31 hit the 60 °F mark for the first time this year.

    San Francisco temperatures cool off starting Wednesday, with a couple of possibilities for rain as the week ends. Meanwhile, Southern California should have temperatures in the 60s most of the week. Cooler weather and a possibility of rain are expected late in the week [Linda Dailey Paulson].

    Western Electricity Prices
    Week's End: March 28 - April 1, 2011
    Hub Peak (heavy) Off-peak (light)
    Alberta Pool (C$) 14.37-461.12 6.57-47.96
    Mid-Columbia 3-33.25 -3-15
    COB 6-34 .50-15
    NP 15* 32.60-34.75 7.50-8.75
    SP 15* 32.85-36.50 9-19.50
    Palo Verde 26-42 6-25.50

    * 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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