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Western Price Survey

Week's End Edition
April 13, 2007
Power Plant, Transmission Outages Push Up Wholesale Electricity Prices

Western electricity prices started stronger than last week and continued strong through Wednesday. By Thursday, as usual, some gains were lost, but Friday trading values bounced back.

Mid-Columbia power prices may have been affected by a weekend fire at the 1,250 MW Columbia Generating Station nuclear reactor, which sent the Richland, Wash.-based plant on an unplanned outage for the whole week. Peak prices shot up from Monday's low of 34.50 mills/kWh to a high of 68 mills/kWh on Wednesday. Friday's trades for daytime power were still 20 mills/kWh or so above Monday values.

Mid-Columbia nighttime prices started at a low 13 mills/kWh and rose as high as 50.25 mills/kWh in Wednesday trading before slipping back for Friday and Saturday deliveries. Prices for Monday off-peak deliveries rose in Friday trading but were still 4 mills or so below midweek highs.

Throughout the week, load tripping, hydro-flow limits and transmission-line outages constrained two major West Coast transmission paths, the California-Oregon and Pacific DC Interties. Prices at the California-Oregon border surged from 41 mills/kWh in Monday trading to a high of 71.25 mills/kWh for Thursday deliveries. By the end of the week, peak prices had dropped about 6 mills from Wednesday values. But off-peak power hovered around 47 mills/kWh Friday, where it was Wednesday.

Although the California Independent System Operator reported more than 8,566 MW of power-plant curtailments as of Thursday, including approximately 500 MW at the Big Creek Hydro plant and 325 MW at the High Desert Power Project, California's power prices were more stable than their Northwest counterparts. Wednesday saw a high for North of Path 15 of 72.25 mills/kWh before dropping back down to the mid-60s for weekend deliveries. South of Path 15 prices mirrored the North's ups and downs, with daytime power prices finishing the week at close to 70 mills/kWh.

The 1,247 MW Unit No. 3 of the Palo Verde nuclear plant in Arizona was shut down Thursday for maintenance. As in NP15 and SP15, the value of power at the Palo Verde hub jumped sharply on Wednesday before stabilizing for the weekend. High-demand power in the Southwest traded as high as 69 mills/kWh earlier in the week before dipping to the low 60s for Monday deliveries. Off-peak costs were up for the week, jumping from 34 mills/kWh on Monday to close just shy of 50 mills/kWh on Friday [Charles Redell].

Gas Prices Follow Power Prices, But Canadian Storm Affects Alberta

The price of natural gas across the West rose and fell in much the same pattern as power prices this week--values started high, reached highs on Wednesday, and retreated on Friday.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration reported Thursday a storage injection of 23 Bcf of natural gas for the week ending April 5, with 6 Bcf added to Western stores. Stocks for the contiguous states are still 119 Bcf below year-ago levels, but remain 28.4 percent above the five-year average. Prices dropped Thursday on the news.

Prices at the Southern California border ranged from $6.95/MMBtu on Monday to as high as $7.60/MMBtu on Wednesday. By Friday, prices had retreated to an average of $7.22/MMBtu.

Texas' Permian Basin saw a relatively large price swing this week. There, costs jumped from $6.84/MMBtu to as high as $7.42/MMBtu on Wednesday. By the end of the week, though, the value of gas there returned to approximately $7/MMBtu.

Further north at Malin, Ore., prices jumped more than 40c before tailing off to end the week at an average of $7.18/MMBtu. Meanwhile, as a winter storm raged across northern Canada and bore down on the Midwestern U.S. for the weekend, natural gas prices at the Alberta hub rose. They started at a low $7.24/MMBtu and peaked in Thursday trading at $7.51/MMBtu.

San Juan Basin in New Mexico spent most of the week at close to $7/MMBtu, though prices reached a peak for Thursday deliveries with a value of $7.47/MMBtu before dropping back on Friday [C. R.].

Western Electricity Prices
Week's End: April 9 - 13, 2007
Hub Peak (heavy) Off-peak (light)
Alberta Pool (C$) 24.03-240.18 7.24-183.09
Mid-Columbia 34.50-68 13-50.25
COB 41-71.25 25-52
NP 15 54.75-72.25 37-54
SP 15 55-72.50 37-56
Palo Verde 59-69 34-52

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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