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Western Price Survey

April 5, 2019
Most Regional Energy Prices Move Up

Western power and natural gas prices ascended this week, with a few exceptions.

Most Western power prices perked up in March 28 to April 4 trading. Only Palo Verde daytime power continued falling, down $3.25 to $15/MWh. By April 4, prices ranged from $15/MWh at Palo Verde to $36.20/MWh at North of Path 15.

NP15 peak power dropped to $6.35/MWh April 3, which analyst Jeff Richter, principal at EnergyGPS, attributes to a San Diego-Los Angeles Basin nomogram constraint. These scheduling rules are used by the California ISO to meet North American Electric Reliability Corporation and WECC reliability standards and NRC requirements.

Both Palo Verde and NP15 reacted. Richter said the day-ahead heavy load average at Palo Verde that day dropped to minus $1.87/MWh. NP15 peak power rebounded the next day, gaining 470 percent and ending at $36.20/MWh.

CAISO demand reached 27,384 MW April 1, which should be the week's high. Northwest Power Pool demand reached 50,940 MW that same day.

Total renewables on the CAISO grid reached 13,656 MW March 29, supplying roughly 53 percent of demand. That same day, solar generation provided 10,685 MW, or roughly 41.5 percent of demand.

Although regional natural gas prices generally increased, El Paso-Permian Basin gas pricing remained at minus 29 cents/MMBtu after gaining $1.14 in trading. Operators in the area continue to struggle with planned and unplanned maintenance outages.

The Waha Hub dropped $8.42/MMBtu lower than Henry Hub prices to minus $5.75/MMBtu April 3-"an all-time record low for anywhere in the United States," according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

Western natural gas hub prices were up by between 15 cents and $1.41 in trading. El Paso-San Juan Basin gas increased the most, adding $1.41 to end at $1.95/MMBtu April 4. Alberta gas proved the exception, down $1.17 to 19 cents/MMBtu.

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There was 1,130 Bcf of natural gas in storage as of March 29, according to EIA estimates. This is a net increase of 23 Bcf compared with the previous week. Storage levels are now 16.8 percent less than a year ago and 30.9 percent less than the five-year average.

In March, the average high peak price at Henry Hub was $4.17/MMBtu, $1.40 more than in March 2018 (see "Price Trends," next page).

Western natural gas hub prices in March increased by several dollars compared with the same month in the prior year. In March 2019, Malin natural gas was $6.54/MMBtu—$4.08 greater than in March 2018.

Some average Western power prices burst into the stratosphere in March, year over year. Mid-Columbia was $933.65 more than in 2018 and was at a high of $964.90/MWh. In contrast, Palo Verde was up a modest $19.75 at $50.75/MWh. –Linda Dailey Paulson

Archives of the Western Price Survey for the past year are also available online.

The Western Price Survey is excerpted from 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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