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Western Price Survey

Week's End Edition
April 16, 2010
Gas Prices Hold Onto Previous Week's Gains, Power Values Fall

Power prices fell across the West this week on mild weather and relatively slack demand.

South of Path 15 peak electricity ended the week down about $2/MWh, finishing at an average of $39.36/MWh -- about $3 less than the previous Friday close on April 9.

Mid-Columbia peak prices fell about $1.50 during the course of the week, finishing around $40/MWh, but down about $8 compared to the average price at the previous week's close on April 9.

Daytime electricity at Mid-C and COB remained the most expensive and Palo Verde the cheapest this week (see charts).

Western prices for spot natural gas tended to fall during the week. Southern California Border gas dropped about 16 cents/MMBtu, but traded Friday at $3.89/MMBtu, which was 2 cents higher than the previous Friday close of $3.87 on April 9.

Malin gas traded at an average of $4.03/MMBtu on Friday, down 14 cents for the week but 3 cents/MMBtu above the April 9 closing price.

This time last year, peak power in the West traded between $20 and $30/MWh and natural gas prices were about $3/MMBtu. With gas prices now approaching $4, electricity prices are understandably in the $30 to $40/MWh range.

Working gas in storage was 1,756 Bcf as of April 9, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, representing a net injection of 87 Bcf -- an all-time high injection for this time of year. Western gas storage is 28.1 percent above the five-year average and 3.1 percent above year-ago levels.

Henry Hub spot natural gas traded for an average of $4.15/MMBtu on Wednesday, which was 7 cents higher than the week ending Wednesday, April 7, the EIA said in its weekly natural gas update. Henry Hub spot had dropped to an average of $3.96/MMBtu on Friday, but that was again 7 cents above the finishing price on April 9.

According to the EIA, total natural gas demand for the Wednesday-to-Wednesday week (from April 7 to April 14) rose by 8.4 percent compared with the previous week. Consumption in the residential and commercial sectors rose by 24 percent, while natural gas demand for electric power generation increased by 7 percent overall in the United States.

"The increase in demand was likely the result of the return of seasonable temperatures, which were colder than the previous week," the EIA said. However, the agency noted that this week's total natural gas demand was about 6 percent lower compared with the same week last year.

The number of natural gas rigs drilling totaled 959 for the week ended April 9, an increase of 10 rigs compared to the previous week, and the 15th consecutive week the number of rigs drilling for natural gas has increased, the EIA stated.

Seattle temperatures are expected to reach near 60 °F by Monday, with the chance of rain. San Francisco will see highs in the mid-60s, and Los Angeles 70.

The 1,080 MW second unit at the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station has restarted following replacement of a steam generator. The plant had 90 percent output Friday, according to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission [Chris Raphael].

Western Electricity Prices
Week's End: April 12 - 16, 2010
Hub Peak (heavy) Off-peak (light)
Alberta Pool (C$) 14-513.24 8.20-43.97
Mid-Columbia 38-46 30-36
COB 38.75-45 30.50-34.50
NP 15* 38-43.25 29.25-31.75
SP 15* 38-44.50 28.50-31.20
Palo Verde 34-40 26-30

* Prices represent both day-ahead locational marginal prices (financial swaps, or EZ Gen DA LMPs) and quasi-swap prices (EZ Gen) as reported by ICE.

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.

Please contact with questions or comments about this site.

Contact Chris Raphael, editor with questions regarding Price Survey Content.

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