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Western Price Survey

Week's End Edition
April 6, 2012
Western Power Prices End Week Mixed

Western power prices were mixed at the end of Thursday trading, the result of a jumble of market conditions, including an abbreviated trading period.

Some markets were closed Friday, April 6 in observance of the Easter/Passover holidays.

Peak average Western power prices were mixed by the end of Friday-to-Thursday trading. Gains were less than a dollar, while those hubs posting losses were down a dollar or two.

North of Path 15 prices gained 45 cents to end Thursday at $23.25/MWh. Palo Verde daytime average power, meanwhile, lost $2.15/MWh, trading at roughly $22.65/MWh. Prices at the close of the trading week ranged from averages of $18.25/MWh at Mid-Columbia to about $27.75 at South of Path 15.

There has also been reduced nuclear generation throughout the region in recent weeks, with three generating units off line. Both units at the 2,200 MW San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station have been off line since January and remain off line as the units undergo inspection following leaks in steam-generator tubes. The third unit at the Palo Verde nuclear power plant went down March 17 for refueling.

Nighttime power in the West recovered slightly from lows prompted in part by excess hydro generation -- the result of the Bonneville Power Administration drafting its hydropower system to prepare for spring runoff -- plus steady rain and wind. In California, the state Department of Water Resources reported this week that its April 1 snowpack measurements show levels 55 percent of the seasonal average.

Although the state experienced wet weather throughout March, the agency stated this did little to improve conditions. At this time last year, the snowpack water content was 163 percent of average.

Average prices for off-peak power in the West traded between roughly $7.80/MWh and $19.15/MWh Thursday, April 5.

Mid-Columbia, which posted the lowest values, gained almost $7/MWh over the trading period. Palo Verde lost a quarter, down to $16.50/MWh during the trading period.

Working gas in storage reached 2,479 Bcf as of Friday, March 30, according to U.S. Energy Information Administration estimates, a net increase of 42 Bcf from the previous week. March 31 marked the end of the 2011-2012 heating season. Current storage levels are at record levels, now 55.7 percent higher than a year ago and 60.5 percent above the five-year average.

The Henry Hub spot average price closed April 6 at $1.98, down 2 cents over the trading period. In contrast, Western hubs posted gains during the period. Southern California Border gas led gainers with a 13-cent increase, ending Friday at $2.25/MMBtu. PG&E CityGate spot natural gas rose 7 cents, ending at $2.45/MMBtu, while Malin gained 8 cents, trading at $2.05/MMBtu Friday. Ruby-Malin prices were up 9 cents to $2.05/MMBtu.

Peak use on the Cal-ISO grid reached 28,507 MW Tuesday evening, the week's high. The Northwest Power Pool reported peak use of 51,348 MW Thursday evening.

What's ahead: Rain is possible in Northern California, Southern California and the Pacific Northwest next week [Linda Dailey Paulson].

Western Electricity Prices
Week's End: April 2 - 6, 2012
Hub Peak (heavy) Off-peak (light)
Alberta Pool (C$) 10.56-59.61 10.48-18.55
Mid-Columbia 16.25-20 0.05-10
COB 19.50-23 5-12.50
NP 15* 23.25-26.25 14-15
SP 15* 26.50-33.25 17.15-20
Palo Verde 14-16 20.50-23.50

* 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.

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Contact Chris Raphael, editor with questions regarding Price Survey Content.

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