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Western Price Survey

April 22, 2016
Hubs See Negative Prices as Spring Runoff Gets Under Way

Continued strong hydroelectric generation in the Pacific Northwest sent nighttime power into negative pricing the week of April 18.

Hydroelectric output at the Bonneville Power Administration remained high throughout the week, reaching nearly 13,500 MW.

In April 18 to April 22 trading, Western nighttime power prices lost between $2.40 and $7 on average. California-Oregon Border posted the greatest losses, down $7 to $4.35/MWh. During the trading week, the Mid-Columbia hub saw a low of negative $1.50/MWh and ended at an average price of negative 5 cents.

Average peak power prices fell between $3 and $7.15 in Friday-to-Friday trading. California-Oregon Border again posted the greatest losses, down $7.15 to $12.75/MWh. Prices on April 22 ranged from $8/MWh at Mid-C to $21.50 at North of Path 15.

Working natural gas in storage was 2,484 Bcf as of April 15, according to U.S. Energy Information Administration estimates, a net increase of 7 Bcf compared to the previous week. Storage levels are now 55 percent greater than a year ago and 48.5 percent greater than the five-year average.

Henry Hub gas spot values added 5 cents in Thursday-to-Thursday trading, ending at $1.95/MMBtu April 21.

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Western natural gas average values generally followed Henry Hub, rising between 6 and 11 cents. Alberta natural gas gained the most, adding 11 cents to reach 88 cents/MMBtu. The exception was Sumas, which fell 9 cents to end at $1.21/MMBtu Thursday.

Most notably, PG&E CityGate prices ended above $2 at $2.03/MMBtu April 21. Henry Hub traded above $2 April 20. It was the first time the benchmark natural gas hub's price was greater than $2 since February, according to the EIA.

Demand peaked on the CAISO grid at 31,684 MW April 22, which should be the week's high. Total renewables production reached 11,690 MW April 15. Solar generation reached a record-high instantaneous peak output of 7,708 MW April 16, surpassing the March 31 record of 7,529 MW.

The California statewide snow-water equivalent was 14.6 inches, or 58 percent of the historical average, as of April 21, according to the state Department of Water Resources. The agency characterized runoff as being at "a strong and steady pace in most mountainous regions of the state" [Linda Dailey Paulson].

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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