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Western Price Survey / Archives

April 23, 2004
Warmer Weekend Outlook Nudges Power Prices Upward

The price for power in the West treaded water at most hubs during much of this week. On Thursday, however, the expectation of warmer weather in California pushed the price of electricity for Friday delivery higher at NP15 and SP15. This upward movement bucked the trend typically seen in late-week trading, namely, the tapering off of prices in concert with a drop in demand. Friday deals, conducted for power to be delivered next Monday climbed above the 50 mills/KWh mark.

SP15 peak-power trades opened the week at a high of 49.25 mills/KWh before slipping to between 46.25 mills and 47.75 mills/KWh for midweek deliveries. By the end of the week, power at the hub was again moving in the vicinity of 49 mills/KWh. High-load power traded at the hub for between 51.75 mills and 52.75 mills on Friday. Off-peak power prices at SP15 ranged from 34 mills to 37.75 mills/KWh this week, skipping up to 40.50 mills/KWh for next week deliveries. The price for power at NP15 tracked a few mills below the SP15 price much of the week, but managed to exceed the SP15 price on Friday. Peak power moved for between 52.50 mills and 53.20 mills/KWh that day.

Palo Verde power for daytime delivery was moving for between 44.50 mills and 47 mills/KWh during the first half of the week. The margin narrowed in trading for weekend deliveries, with the price ranging between 45.25 mills and 46 mills/KWh on Thursday before hitting a high of 48.65 mills/KWh on Friday.

Low-demand power changed hands at the PV hub for a high of 38 mills/KWh on Friday after sinking to a low of 31.25 mills/KWh on Wednesday.

In the Northwest, trading for peak deliveries at the Mid-Columbia hub stayed within the narrow range of 39.50 mills to 41 mills/KWh in Monday and Tuesday trading. On Wednesday, the hub prices gained a bit of strength, closing that day at a high of 44.25 mills/KWh. Off-peak power at Mid-C clung to the 34.25 mills to 35.50 mills/KWh range during the first half of the week before finding its legs for weekend deliveries, when it ran for between 36 mills and 37.25 mills/KWh. Packages for Monday delivery ran as high as 42 mills/KWh.

Pacific Gas & Electric's 1,113 MW Diablo Canyon No. 1 nuclear unit remains on a scheduled refueling outage. The company estimates the unit should be back on line during the first week of May. The 1,352 MW Palo Verde No. 1 nuclear unit is also on a refueling hiatus and the No. 2 unit at the facility was at 95 percent output Friday.

The 750 MW Unit No. 4 at Four Corners returned to full service on Wednesday after being forced to reduce production by 360 MW for more than a week. AES' Redondo No. 8 unit began the week off line on a forced outage, but on Tuesday the 487 MW facility was up and running. Still, by the time No. 8 went back on line, the 493 MW Redondo No. 7 unit tripped off line and remained out of service the rest of the week.

Huntington Beach Unit Nos. 1-4 were either off line or partially curtailed on Thursday. The 226 MW No. 3 unit was on a forced outage all week and was joined in sick bay by the 227 MW No. 4 unit on Wednesday. Huntington's 225 MW No. 1 unit began a scheduled outage that day as well. On Thursday Unit No. 2 was pooped and 65 MW of its 225 MW capacity was unavailable.

Within California Independent System Operator territory, peak load just edged above the 30,000 MW mark on Monday. During the following two days, peak demand cleared the 29,700 MW bar but did not manage to get any higher. In light of the forecasted rise in temperatures, the predicted load in the grid operator's region for Friday was 30,444 MW.

The Western Electricity Coordinating Council reported a number of transmission-line derates during the week, most of which were maintenance related. Though capacity was reduced on many major lines in the West, the impact of the constraints on prices seemed to be negligible [Shauna O'Donnell].

Gas Prices Slip, Trip, Skip

Next-day natural-gas prices in much of the Western region managed to maintain a foothold above the $5.00/MMBtu line this week, though basin prices slipped below that mark midweek. On Tuesday, Permian Basin gas was trading for a low of $5.0425/MMBtu. By the end of the week, the price at the hub had gained a dime. In contrast, San Juan Basin gas hit a low of $4.91/MMBtu on Wednesday before clawing its way up to $5.03/MMBtu the following day.

PG&E CityGate gas led the pack as usual this week, ranging from a high of $5.69/MMBtu on Monday to a low of $5.47/MMBtu on Wednesday. PG&E's California Gas Transmission system called a system-wide operational flow order for Thursday, April 22, because of high inventory. The tolerance band for the Stage 2 OFO was 4 percent, with a $1.00/Dth penalty.

For the first time in 20 years, the Bureau of Land Management this week auctioned off 10-year gas and oil leases in New Mexico and three other states. A handful of parcels were to be offered in the San Juan Basin region, however, all but one were pulled from the sale before the auction. Burlington Resources was the winning bidder for the one parcel that was offered in the proven gas field. The company bid $22,500 per acre for the 1,241-acre parcel [S O'D.].

Western Electricity Prices
Week of April 19 - 23, 2004
Hub Peak (heavy) Off-peak (light)
Alberta Pool (C$) 14.09-220.32 10.20-180.35
APX California 45.50-45.75 36-40
Mid-Columbia 39.25-44.25 34.25-42
COB 44.50-48 35.25-41
NP 15 45.50-53.50 35.50-42
SP 15 46.25-52.75 34-40.50
Palo Verde 44.50-48.65 31.25-38

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 Shauna O'Donnell, editor with questions regarding Price Survey Content.

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