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Western Price Survey

April 6, 2018
Renewables Consistently Represent Half of California Generation

Renewable resources are serving a greater proportion of California’s power demand, at levels that routinely serve roughly 50 percent or more of load.

The amount of renewables on the California Independent System Operator grid reached 15,070 MW April 2, supplying roughly 55 percent of demand. “We are consistently seeing all renewables serving load increasing [to] the high 40 percent into the mid-50 percent range on a regular basis,” Steven Greenlee, CAISO spokesman, noted in an email.

The current CAISO record for all renewables serving load is 70.5 percent, recorded Feb. 18.

Wind generation reached a new record April 1 when it served 22.8 percent of the grid’s load. This is a nominal increase compared to the previous record of 22.4 percent, recorded in March 2017.

Meanwhile, working natural gas in storage was 1,354 Bcf as of March 30, according to U.S. Energy Information Administration estimates. This is a net decrease of 29 Bcf compared to the previous week.

Storage levels are now 34 percent less than a year ago and 20.4 percent less than the five-year average.

Henry Hub natural gas spot prices rose 14 cents, ending at $2.78/MMBtu at the close of the March 28 to April 5 trading period. Markets were closed March 30 in observance of Good Friday.

Western natural gas prices generally moved between 3 cents and as much as 28 cents higher in trading. El Paso-Permian gained the most, up 28 cents to $1.99/MMBtu. Alberta gas proved the exception, shedding 5 cents to end at $1.57/MMBtu.

Peak power values in the West increased between $1.25 and $8.60 in March 29 to April 5 trading. Mid-Columbia posted the greatest increase, up $8.60 to $24.80/MWh.

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Nighttime power values generally moved lower, with hubs down between $1.25 and $4.50. South of Path 15 posted the greatest loss, down $4.50 to $23.15/MWh. Mid-C was the exception, up $5.10 to $20.50/MWh by April 5.

In March, average natural gas prices were generally less compared with 2017 (see “Price Trends,” next page). The average high price last month at Henry Hub was $2.77/MMBtu, 32 cents less than last year. Among Western gas hubs, Southern California Border gained 9 cents to reach an average high price of $2.89/MMBtu. PG&E CityGate shed 29 cents year over year, with an average high price of $2.96/MWh.

Average Western peak power prices in March were higher than in 2017 by between roughly $1.80 and as much as $9.60. SP15 gained the most, up $9.60 year over year to $42.10/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 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 Mavis Scanlon, editor with questions regarding Price Survey content.

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