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Western Price Survey / Archives

April 15, 2005
Western Power Costs Remain High, Influenced Little by Drop
in Gas Prices

Electricity prices remained fairly stable this week in the West, managing to resist following natural gas prices downward. After treading water during the first half of the week, most Western hubs reported gains in Friday trading for next-week deliveries. Particularly noteworthy was the bump upward in the cost of off-peak power in California and the Northwest.

North of Path 15, peak prices started the week between 58.75 and 60.25 mills/KWh, rising to a high of 62.75 mills/KWh in Friday trading. Off-peak prices at the hub hovered around 44 mills/KWh much of the week. By Friday the price had risen to a high of 53.50 mills/KWh.

Southern California power prices started the week ranging from 58.75 mills to 60 mills/KWh, before bumping up to 63 mills/KWh in Wednesday trading. By the end of the week the price moved up to 63.75 mills/KWh. Low-demand power costs took off on Friday, reaching a high of 52 mills/KWh after spending most of the week trading between 43 mills and 45 mills/KWh.

In the Southwest, peak prices at the Palo Verde hub reached a high of 59.50 mills/KWh by midweek and hovered in that vicinity the rest of the week. Off-peak prices ranged around 40 mills/KWh until Friday, when they jumped up to a week's high of 47.50 mills/KWh.

Northwest prices also swelled as the week wore on, albeit not to the same degree as California power costs. At the California-Oregon border, peak power changed hands for as much as 61 mills/KWh this week, while off-peak power went for as much as 52 mills/KWh midweek. Mid-Columbia peak prices reached a high of 57.50/KWh at midweek, about a half a mill more than last week's highest peak price. On Friday the price moved up by just half a mill.

Significant power plant outages in California included the planned outage of Units No. 2 and No. 5 at the Alamitos Generating Station, which took 175 MW and 485 MW off the grid, respec-tively. An unplanned outage of Alamitos Unit No. 3 curtailed another 332 MW. Throughout the week, the continuing planned outages at Mohave Unit No. 2 and Ormond Beach Unit No. 2 kept another 1,500 MW off the grid.

The California Independent System Operator called a transmission emergency early Tuesday morning for flows on the Los Baņos North line because of the loss of the Moss Landing-Los Baņos 500 KV line. The line loss was due to an equipment malfunction at a Pacific Gas & Electric substa-tion near Tracy, said Cal-ISO spokesperson Gregg Fishman. The emergency lasted from 4:34 am to 5:09 am. The cause of the malfunction was not yet known. Meanwhile, the Pacific DC Intertie was declared unavailable Monday and Tuesday because Sylmar converters No. 1 and 2 were out of serv-ice, according to the Western Electricity Coordinating Council. The line was back up sending power north and south on Wednesday, though it was limited to 2,407 MW north to south and 1,904 MW south to north, due to the Ashe-Slatt 500 KV line being out of service [Chris Raphael].

Gas Costs Slip Some on Drop in Oil Prices

The price for natural gas went on a downward trajectory this week, dragged down by the drop in oil costs and reports of infusion of gas into the nation's underground storage facilities.

Midweek trading in natural gas saw the price at the producing basins of Permian and San Juan hover in the range of $6.40 to $6.60/MMBtu. As the price of a barrel of crude oil slipped to just above the $50 mark, gas costs at the basins shed value, with Permian closing at a week's low of $6.14/MMBtu and San Juan dropping to $6.08/MMBtu on Friday.

At the Southern California border, gas prices reached a high of $6.96/MMBtu on Tuesday be-fore sliding down to between $6.45 and $6.53/MMBtu at the end of the week. Topock gas changed hands for as much as $7.25/MMBtu last week.

PG&E CityGate gas fetched as much as $7.27/MMBtu on Tuesday before sinking to $6.81/MMBtu on Friday.

The Energy Information Administration reported an injection of 44 Bcf into storage for the week ending April 8, bringing current storage quantities up to 1,293 Bcf, more than 26 percent above the five-year average [C. R.].

Western Electricity Prices
April 11 - 15, 2005
Hub Peak (heavy) Off-peak (light)
Alberta Pool (C$) 10.37-303.94 9.69-152.06
Mid-Columbia 54-58.50 45.50-48.25
COB 56.75-61 45-52
NP 15 58.75-62.75 43-53.50
SP 15 58.50-63.75 42.25-52
Palo Verde 54.50-59.50 39.50-47.50

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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