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Western Price Survey

April 27, 2018
California Sets New Solar Records; Cold Spurs Continued Gas Withdrawals

Nice weather, longer days, and more solar on the grid helped fuel new solar records in the Golden State. Over the past year, California has added more than 1.5 GW of solar, bringing its installed total to 11,439 MW.

An instantaneous solar generation peak of 10,521 MW was reached on the California Independent System Operator grid April 26, topping the record 10,431 MW set the previous day.

Demand on the CAISO grid peaked at 29,542 MW April 23. Total renewables on the CAISO grid reached 14,508 MW April 26, supplying roughly 49 percent of demand.

April 1 traditionally marks the start of the natural gas storage refill season, but this year, colder weather has driven continued withdrawals. Working natural gas in storage was 1,281 Bcf as of April 20, according to U.S. Energy Information Administration estimates, a net decrease of 18 Bcf compared with the previous week.

The continued withdrawal activity is unprecedented, according to the EIA. This is the first time since 1994, when the agency began its Weekly Natural Gas Storage Report, that net withdrawals were reported in the first three weeks of April.

Storage levels are now 41.2 percent less than a year ago and 29.1 percent less than the five-year average.

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The Pacific region added 2 Bcf to storage during the EIA report week. The greatest net withdrawal occurred in the Midwest, which withdrew 17 Bcf of natural gas.

Henry Hub natural gas spot prices added 4 cents, ending at $2.81/MMBtu in April 19 to 26 trading.

Western natural gas prices generally added between 3 and 98 cents in trading. Alberta gas gained the most, up 98 cents to $1.54/MMBtu. El Paso-Permian natural gas proved an exception, losing $1.10 to end at $1.49/MMBtu. Stanfield and Sumas natural gas hubs also lost value in trading.

Palo Verde peak power prices shot up $13.15 to $32.15/MWh by April 26. While Mid-Columbia daytime power values shed 80 cents, California-Oregon Border remained even at $26/MWh.

Western off-peak power values generally lost value, with Mid-C dropping $3.15 to $11.20/MWh. Palo Verde off-peak power, however, added $1.50 to $19.75/MWh.

The California snow-water equivalent was 8.6 inches April 26, according to the California Department of Water Resources, about 37 percent of the average for the date.
–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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