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Western Price Survey

Week's End Edition
April 27, 2007
Wholesale Prices Jump in Friday Trading as Warm Weather Approaches

George and Gracie, the famous Bay Area peregrine falcons, laid a second clutch of eggs last weekend on top of the Pacific Gas & Electric building in San Francisco. The falcons had laid an initial round of eggs on the Bay Bridge, but researchers removed them after determining that the baby falcons would have perished trying to fly with the bay beneath them. Wholesale electricity prices also found their own perch this week, as rising electricity demand pushed prices up by 10 mills/kWh in many areas during Friday trading.

Peak demand in California shifted toward the middle of the day this week. It had been arriving at about 8 p.m. for most of April, but jumped ahead this week to 2 p.m. Peaks were also higher, reaching 33,012 MW by press time on Friday afternoon.

As one might expect, daytime power prices took a Friday jump. After opening below 60 mills/kWh, North of Path 15 daytime power hit a high of 73.25 mills/kWh in Friday trading. Nighttime power was not spared, jumping to 60 mills/kWh for power delivered Monday.

Warm weather predicted for the weekend across the region also caused demand forecasts and prices to move higher. South of Path 15 peak power, after starting the week a bit above 60 mills/kWh, moved up to around 70 mills/kWh in Friday trading. Off-peak power also jumped about 10 mills, from roughly 46 mills/kWh in Monday-through-Thursday trading to around 56 mills/kWh for weekend deliveries.

In the Southwest, the 1,247 MW Unit No. 3 of the Palo Verde nuclear power plant remained out this week for maintenance. Peak values at Palo Verde, however, stayed below 60 mills/kWh most of the week, but rose to an average of 63 mills/kWh in Friday trading. Off-peak power traded at around 41 mills/kWh most of the week until, as in California, prices gained 10 mills on Friday.

Up north, things were much calmer. At the California-Oregon border, prices for daytime power stayed pretty steady at just below 60 mills/kWh most of the week, but inched up a few mills in Friday trading. Nighttime power found its way above the 50 mills/kWh mark and ended the week spreading between 45 mills and 53 mills/kWh.

Peak and off-peak power prices at Mid-Columbia stayed below 60 mills/kWh this week. Daytime power traded as low as 51 mills/kWh Wednesday before weekend deliveries commanded a price of 59 mills/kWh. Nighttime power, which hovered in the range of 45 mills/kWh last week, stayed near 40 mills/kWh this week until Friday trading, when off-peak prices wildly spread between 33 mills and 47 mills/kWh [Charles Redell].

Gas Prices Keep Cool on Storage Withdrawal, Warmer Weather

Natural gas prices started the week off stronger than the week before and continued to rise through the week. On Thursday, though, traditional lower weekend demand, warmer weather forecasts and a storage injection sent prices downward.

On Thursday, the U.S. Energy Information Administration reported that natural gas stores had grown by 18 Bcf nationwide for the previous week.

Prices at Permian Basin in Texas hit their high of $6.97/MMBtu in Wednesday's trading before losing value gained earlier in the week. By Friday, the average price at the hub was $6.43/MMBtu, more than 50c below midweek values.

New Mexico's San Juan Basin followed a similar pattern. The low trade price for the week was posted Monday at $6.37/MMBtu, beating Friday's low trade by a penny. But Friday's average price, at $6.40/MMBtu, was the lowest of the week.

Prices at the Southern California border traded at a bit above $7/MMBtu midweek, but by Friday the average price was down to $6.69/MMBtu, which was more than 47c below the average Wednesday trading price.

Farther north at Malin, Ore., prices fared better than their southern counterparts, though they followed the familiar pattern of midweek peaks followed by weekend-delivery lows. Wednesday brought the high trade price of the week at $7.07/MMBtu. On Friday, the average price was $6.73/MMBtu.

A temporary shutdown of TransCanada's Alberta Gas Line did not seem to affect prices much at the Alberta hub. Up north, prices stayed below $7/MMBtu all week [C. R.].

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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