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Western Price Survey

April 1, 2016
California Drought Persists

Despite "impressive" March rainfall amounts across Northern California, the state snowpack has not kept pace.

The statewide snow-water equivalent was 24.4 inches or 87 percent of the historical average as of March 30, according to the California Department of Water Resources.

"While for many parts of the state there will be significant gains in both reservoir storage and streamflow, the effects of previous dry years will remain for now," said Frank Gehrke, chief of the California Cooperative Snow Surveys Program.

Working natural gas in storage was 2,468 Bcf as of March 25, according to U.S. Energy Information Administration estimates. Storage remains at record highs despite a net decrease of 25 Bcf compared to the previous week. Storage levels are now 68.3 percent greater than a year ago and 51.9 percent greater than the five-year average.

Henry Hub gas spot values added 12 cents in the Wednesday-to-Thursday trading period, ending at $1.93/MMBtu March 31. Markets were closed Friday, March 25, in observance of Good Friday.

The majority of Western natural gas hubs were up between 11 and 15 cents in trading. Gas prices remained well below $2/MMBtu at most hubs, with Alberta dipping to 73 cents/MMBtu, according to Enerfax data.

While Pacific Northwest peak power values lost between $2.10 and $4.35 in March 24 to April 1 trading, other Western hubs added roughly a dollar. Prices ranged from $10.20/MWh at Mid-C to $21.50/MWh at North of Path 15.

Nighttime power values rose between $1.10 and $2.55, save for Mid-C, which eroded 65 cents to $9.10/MWh.

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On the Cal-ISO grid, solar generation reached a record-high instantaneous peak output of 7,529 MW March 31, surpassing the March 26 record of 7,316 MW.

The 1,190 MW Columbia Generating Station is ramping up after an unplanned shutdown related to a cooling loss on March 28. The plant is operating at 71 percent of capacity as of April 1, according to Nuclear Regulatory Commission data.

Western natural gas values were lower by roughly a dollar compared to the same month last year. Western power prices, meanwhile, were between $7 and $13.70 less per MWh, on average, than in the same month in 2015 [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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