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Western Price Survey

April 10, 2015
Western Forecasters Hoping for One Last Winter Storm

Although it may appear too late for wet, wintry weather to slake the parched western U.S., that's exactly what water forecasters are hoping may occur. A late-season storm is not out of the realm of possibility, they say, but the likelihood seems small.

The California snowpack, as of April 8, has 2.3 inches of water content. This is 8 percent of the historical average.

"The storm window is still open," stated the California Department of Water Resources. "But, based on historical trends, only about 17 percent of the water year's precipitation is expected after March 31."

In the Pacific Northwest, "the biggest problem is that the snowpack hasn't increased as it typically would through the month of March," says Kevin Berghoff, Northwest River Forecast Center senior hydrologist. Although there's no substantial precipitation on the horizon, the situation could change, he said. "We've had numerous big rain and snow events late in the season. This is a very unique year because the temperatures have been so warm."

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Reaches of the Upper Columbia Basin in Canada have seen a slight increase in snowpack where other basins in the region have been losing snowpack early. Berghoff says 45 percent of the current Columbia River volume can be attributed to Canadian runoff, which is driving and sustaining the main stem flows.

Working gas in storage reached 1,476 Bcf as of April 3 according to U.S. Energy Information Administration estimates, a net increase of 15 Bcf from the previous week.

There was 1,471 Bcf of natural gas in storage at the end of the year's heating season, March 31, according to the EIA Short-Term Energy Outlook, released April 7. A total of 2,116 Bcf of natural gas was withdrawn from storage this year.

Henry Hub gas spot values added 2 cents in Wednesday-to-Thursday trading, ending at $2.62/MMBtu April 9. Western natural gas prices gained between 2 and 15 cents. Alberta proved the exception, dropping 12 cents to $2.05/MMBtu, while Malin natural gas added 15 cents to $2.39/MMBtu.

Western peak power prices varied roughly a dollar in April 2 to 10 trading. Average daytime prices ranged from $20.30/MWh at Mid-Columbia to $30/MWh at South of Path 15.

Northwest hubs' nighttime power values similarly saw little movement. Average nighttime prices April 10 ranged from $19.10/MWh at Mid-Columbia to $26.10/MWh at SP15 [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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