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Western Price Survey / Archives

April 22, 2005
Little Push or Shove in Western Power Prices

Except for a late April snowstorm in Wyoming, the West was blessed with mild seasonal weather and few transmission difficulties, as electricity prices edged downward this week.

The few major outages that did occur did little to inflate prices. Unit No. 2 at the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station was taken down for scheduled maintenance of its feed-water system early Sunday, taking 1,122 MW out of circulation, though the facility was back up and running by Tuesday afternoon.

Other curtailments affecting SP15 customers included the ongoing planned outages at Units No. 3, No. 5 and No. 6 of the Alamitos power plant, which have collectively taken more than 1,000 MW off the grid for the past two weeks. Elsewhere, the 1,020 MW Big Creek hydro project was curtailed by as much as 544 MW this week. The 775 MW Ormond Beach Unit No. 2 continued its planned outage, as did the 790 MW Mohave Generating Station Unit No. 2.

In addition, an unplanned outage at the Sunrise power project kept all of its 590 MW from the grid Wednesday through Friday.

Even for SP15 customers who bore the brunt of the outages, prices largely held their ground or else dipped. Off-peak power traded for as much as 52.25 mills/KWh on Monday, dipped by Thursday and then regained strength on Friday to remain relatively flat. Peak power went for as much as 62.25 mills/KWh in the first three days of this week, but slipped back Thursday and Friday, trading in the range of 57.5 mills to 60 mills/KWh.

Meanwhile, NP15 peak-power prices reached only 61.50 mills/KWh this week, down from a high of 62.75 mills/KWh last week. Off-peak power also lost a bit of price strength, and traded between 42.5 mills and 49.75 mills/KWh, versus 43 mills to 53.50 mills/KWh last week.

The big price drop came at Palo Verde. While peak-power prices shaved a few mills compared with last week, off-peak power traded for as little as 33 mills/KWh and could not break 45 mills/KWh.

At the California-Oregon border, the price of off-peak power tumbled, trading for as little as 41.25 mills/KWh, versus a low of 45 mills/KWh last week. Peak prices also edged down.

While COB peak prices inched downward, off-peak power prices took a bigger tumble, trading between 43 mills and 47.25 mills/KWh.

Prices for Mid-Columbia peak power also fell a mill or two from last week, though off-peak power grew a bit more volatile, trading in a range of 41 mills to 51.5 mills/KWh this week versus 45.5 mills to 48.25 mills/KWh last week.

In the Northwest, outages of the Ashe-Marion No. 1 500 KV line and the Malin shunt capacitor groups No. 3 and No. 4 have limited the California-Oregon Intertie and the Pacific DC Intertie all week. For much of the week, the line was limited to 2,140 MW in the north-to-south direction and 1,904 MW south to north. The COI was limited Wednesday to 3,380 MW north to south and 2,450 MW south to north [Chris Raphael].

Energy Costs Impact Both Producer and Consumer Prices

Last Thursday the US Department of Labor reported that the March Consumer Price Index for urban customers was up 0.8 percent in March from February. The seasonally adjusted rate for the CPI was 0.6 percent.

Energy costs went up 4 percent from the preceding month, on a seasonally adjusted basis. The energy index, which rose 16.6 percent from 2003 to 2004, advanced at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 21.1 percent in the first quarter of 2005. The increase accounted for almost half of the first-quarter rise in the CPI.

The Producer Price Index for finished goods went up 0.7 percent in March from February, an increase chiefly caused by energy prices, which went up 3.3 percent in March after rising 1.4 percent in February.

Natural gas prices moved downward this week, with the exception of Permian Basin prices, which averaged out compared with last week. Gas traded between $6.08 and $6.28 MMBtu at the Alberta Hub and $6.37 and $6.61 MMBtu at Malin. Prices at the San Juan Basin averaged between $6.10 and $6.39 MMBtu.

Southern California border prices also edged down, trading between $6.42 and $6.73 MMBtu this week.

The amount of natural gas in storage has been steadily increasing in April. Last week the Department of Energy reported that an additional 50 Bcf made it to storage tanks in the lower 48 states, with 4 Bcf going to the West [C. R.].

Western Electricity Prices
Week of April 18 - 22, 2005
Hub Peak (heavy) Off-peak (light)
Alberta Pool (C$) 10.37-229.75 10.37-261.90
Mid-Columbia 53-56 41-51.50
COB 55.50-60 41.25-50.50
NP 15 57-61.50 42.50-49.75
SP 15 57.25-62.25 42.25-52.50
Palo Verde 53.25-58 33-45

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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