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Western Price Survey

April 12, 2019
California Weather Softens Demand, Tamps Energy Prices

California energy prices trended lower this week, which the U.S. Energy Information Administration attributes to warmer weather and less demand.

The recent week-to-week regional price variances are more akin to bouncing ping-pong balls than the typical escalator-like ascent and descent.

Most Western daytime power prices fell roughly 30 percent in April 4 to April 11 trading. North of Path 15 lost the most value, down $12.90 or 36 percent to $23.30/MWh. Palo Verde daytime power added $1.50 to reach $16.50/MWh. By April 11, prices ranged from $16.50/MWh at Palo Verde to $24.40/MWh at South of Path 15.

Off-peak power prices experienced a similar trajectory, with hubs down by between $6.15 and as much as $9.40, save for Palo Verde nighttime power, which gained $2 to reach $19/MWh.

Natural gas demand in California decreased 5 percent between April 3 and April 10, according to the EIA.

Western natural gas hub prices generally dipped between 10 cents and $1.04 in trading. SoCal CityGate fell the most, tumbling $1.04 to $2.81/MMBtu. El Paso-Permian Basin, which exited negative pricing, and Alberta natural gas proved to be exceptions, adding 86 cents to hit 57 cents/MMBtu and 84 cents to reach $1.03/MMBtu, respectively.

The amount of national working natural gas in storage was 1,115 Bcf as of April 5, according to EIA estimates. This is a net increase of 25 Bcf compared with the prior week.

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There was a 1 Bcf decrease in Pacific region working gas in storage due to EIA reclassification. Pacific region natural gas storage is now 119 Bcf following a net increase of 6 Bcf.

California Independent System Operator demand reached 28,030 MW April 8, which should be the week’s high. Northwest Power Pool Demand reached 52,205 MW April 10, but the week’s high of 53,764 MW is forecast for April 12.

Total renewables on the CAISO grid reached 15,578 MW April 10, meeting almost 58 percent of demand. That same day, solar generation provided 10,417 MW, or roughly 39 percent of demand.

Precipitation throughout California has “surpassed an average water year” at all three indices monitored by the California Department of Water Resources. Precipitation for the water year to date is greatest in the Northern Sierra, where 60.6 inches had fallen through April 11. This is 135 percent of average. The statewide snowpack has a 43.4-inch snow-water equivalent, which is 161 percent of the April 11 average.

The statewide snow-water equivalent has decreased 2 inches since April 1.

In the Northwest, both Portland and Seattle are on track to have above-average amounts of rainfall in April, according to AccuWeather. –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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