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Western Price Survey

Week's End Edition
April 27, 2012
Western Power Prices Drop Again

Strong hydro and wind production in the Northwest pushed power prices lower this week.

Mid-Columbia peak power lost about $7.85/MWh, ending at an average of about $8.45/MWh Friday, while California-Oregon Border dropped $7.40 to $11.45/MWh.

At the Bonneville Power Administration, hydro generation neared or exceeded the 14,000 MW mark on four out of five days between Monday, April 23 and Friday, April 27.

Concurrently, Pacific Northwest wind generation reached a record high of 4,061 MW at about 5 p.m. Thursday. The previous wind-generation record of 4,039 MW was set last month, on March 11.

Peak prices at California hubs dropped around $6 in the April 20 to April 27 trading period. Palo Verde fell around $6.10 to $19.55/MWh, while South of Path 15 lost roughly $5.70/MWh to $28.70. North of Path 15 prices were static.

Prices for peak power at the close of the trading week ranged from averages of $8.45/MWh (Mid-Columbia) to about $28.70 (SP15).

Nighttime power prices in the West also closed the week generally lower, trading in a range of about $0/MWh to $21.30/MWh. Northwest hubs dropped about $3, with Mid-C finishing the week at an average of -2 cents/MWh. SP15 posted the greatest loss among California hubs, down about $2.55 to $21.30/MWh.

Working gas in storage reached 2,548 Bcf as of Friday, April 20, according to U.S. Energy Information Administration estimates, a net increase of 47 Bcf from the previous week. Storage levels are now 52 percent higher than a year ago and 55.4 percent above the five-year average.

The Henry Hub average spot price gained 22 cents between April 20 and April 27, ending at $2.04/MMBtu.

Western natural gas prices generally followed, ending the period higher. Southern California Border proved the exception, with the average spot price for gas at the hub losing 6 cents to end at $2.09/MMBtu Friday. PG&E CityGate spot natural gas prices edged up 4 cents to an average of $2.30/MMBtu.

Peak use on the Cal-ISO grid reached 29,304 MW Tuesday evening, which should prove the week's high. Northwest Power Pool reported a peak use of 47,823 MW Monday evening.

More Western nuclear generation went off line this week. Unit No. 1 at Diablo Canyon was shut down for planned refueling and maintenance early in the week. Unit No. 2 at Diablo Canyon shut down April 25 after sea salps entered the plant's intake structure. The small, gelatinous animals will keep the plant off line for an unspecified period. According to Pacific Gas & Electric, the reactor will be returned to service as soon as it can safely operate.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission also reported an electrical-panel fire in the turbine building at the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station on April 20. Both units of the 2,200 MW facility have been off line since January.

What's ahead: Showers will continue in the Pacific Northwest and last through Thursday, May 3. San Francisco-area temperatures are expected to remain in the 60s through Thursday. The area may have partly cloudy evenings Monday and Wednesday. Los Angeles daytime highs during the same period should be in the upper 60s with fog expected overnight, into the early morning hours [Linda Dailey Paulson].

Western Electricity Prices
Week's End: April 23 - 27, 2012
Hub Peak (heavy) Off-peak (light)
Alberta Pool (C$) 10.82-30.98 7-23.12
Mid-Columbia 6.75-17.50 (-)1.75-2
COB 10-18.50 1.50-3.75
NP 15* 22-26.25 16.25-19.50
SP 15* 24-29.25 16.90-21.75
Palo Verde 18.50-23 12.75-17.25

* Prices represent both day-ahead locational marginal prices (financial swaps, or EZ Gen DA LMPs) and quasi-swap prices (EZ Gen) as reported by ICE.

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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