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Western Price Survey

Week's End Edition
April 20, 2007
Smooth Operations, Wet Western Weekend Keep Power Prices in Check

The value of wholesale electricity started largely where prices left off last week and followed a familiar trend of midweek dips before rising for Monday deliveries this week.

The computer attack and bomb threat on the California Independent System Operator early this week did not cause any service disruption, and early-week power prices stayed calm.

Prices in North of Path 15 and South of Path 15 were nearly static. Peak power traded in the mid-60s all week,reaching a high of 69 mills/kWh on Monday at NP15. SP15's high price was just a quarter mill off that. Off-peak values hovered at the 50 mills/kWh mark in both areas for much of the week.

While the 1,247 MW Unit No. 3 of the Palo Verde nuclear plant remained off line for maintenance, peak prices at the Palo Verde hub averaged 60 mills/kWh early in the week before dropping to the upper 50s for weekend and Monday deliveries. Off-peak power was in the mid-40s most of the week, save for a Thursday dip of a few mills.

Transmission constraints were the story of the week on the California-Oregon Intertie and the Pacific DC Intertie. According to the Western Electricity Coordinating Council, both interties were still constrained in both directions at the end of the week.

Adequate reserves and the return of the 1,107 MW Columbia Generating Station, which went off line last week to repair a transformer, kept prices calm. Mid-Columbia peak prices reached a high of 60 mills/kWh in Tuesday trading, averaging in the high 50s all week. Cooler-than-normal temperatures in the area are predicted for the weekend, yet power prices still dropped in Thursday trading. Nighttime power costs peaked at 46.50 mills/kWh in Friday trading.

Rains in California may have helped dampen demand for Northwest hydro ahead of weekend storms and cooler temperatures rolling into the Northwest. Average peak power prices at the California-Oregon border dropped through the week before rebounding in Friday trading to around 54 mills/kWh, which was still a few mills below early-week values. Nighttime power bounced through the 40s most of the week before settling in at just about 50 mills/kWh for Monday deliveries [Charles Redell].

Western Natural Gas Prices Kept Low on Warmer Temperatures

As springtime finally swept across the East Coast, the price of May natural gas futures dropped early this week to reach its lowest point in three weeks. But prices rose again on Thursday, thanks to the Energy Information Administration's gas-storage report for last week, which reported a withdrawal of 46 Bcf from the nation's stores.

Trading at all the Western hubs, on the other hand, reached highs on Monday and steadily dropped through the week.

At the Southern California hub, natural gas prices reached as high as $7.14/MMBtu before dropping to as low as $6.51/MMBtu in Friday trading. For most of the week, average prices hovered around the $6.90/MMBtu mark. At the Permian Basin in Texas, the value of gas peaked at $6.91/MMBtu on Monday but dipped about 60c to a low price of about $6.30/MMBtu on Friday.

Further west, at the San Juan Basin hub in New Mexico, average gas prices swung more than 40c over the week, reaching as high as $6.88/MMBtu. That peak is well below last week's high, however, and daily average prices were well below last week's averages as well.

Up north, at the Malin, Ore. hub, gas prices cooled down and were less volatile as demand eased with the return of the Columbia nuclear plant. After reaching $7.46/MMBtu last week, this week's peak price was a mere $7.10/MMBtu. The rest of the week, prices at the hub averaged between $6.85 and $6.90/MMBtu before tapering off to about $6.70/MMBtu in Friday's trading.

Alberta gas prices were lower than last week's as well. This week's high was $7.00/MMBtu, or more than 50c off last week's high. The week's average of $6.90/MMBtu was almost 40c lower than last week's average [C. R.].

Western Electricity Prices
Week's End: April 16 - 20, 2007
Hub Peak (heavy) Off-peak (light)
Alberta Pool (C$) 27.13-348.18 8.55-83.25
Mid-Columbia 49.25-60 35-46.50
COB 54-64.75 40-49
NP 15 54-68 45-52.50
SP 15 59.25-67.50 45-52.25
Palo Verde 54.50-63 39-48.50

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

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