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Western Price Survey

Week's End Edition
April 29, 2011
Power Prices Follow Natural Gas Prices Slightly Higher

Western day-ahead power prices this week followed a modest rise in natural gas prices.

For the trading period spanning Thursday, April 21 to Friday, April 29, Malin gas gained 24 cents to an average of $4.40/MMBtu. Southern California Border gas earned 22 cents over the period, closing at $4.47/MMBtu Friday.

Henry Hub spot prices traded at $4.35/MMBtu on April 27, up 2 cents over the previous Wednesday. By Friday the hub traded for an average of $4.51/MMBtu.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration's lackluster natural-gas storage report, released April 28, lifted gas prices. According to the report, a 31 Bcf net injection bumped working natural gas in storage to 1.685 Tcf the previous week. But storage remains 215 Bcf below last year's level and 11 Bcf below the five-year average. Western inventories are 36 Bcf below the five-year average.

In the April 21 to April 29 trading period, here's how average peak power prices fared:

  • NP15: Up $5.50 to about $39.25/MWh.
  • SP15: Up almost $5 to $40.85/MWh.
  • Palo Verde: Increased $6.45 to $39.80/MWh.
  • Mid-C: Earned almost $8.75 to $33.80/MWh.
  • California-Oregon Border: Gained $8.70 to about $36.50/MWh.

Outside of natural gas, power outflows at the Bonneville Dam have receded from early April, when an overabundance of hydro pushed off-peak prices at some hubs into the negative. Power outflows at Bonneville ranged from 144,000 to 169,000 cfs during the last three days of the trading week, in contrast to exceeding 200,000 cfs each day from April 1 to April 12.

Western off-peak average prices generally gained value with increases between about $1.50 and $7.80 during the trading period. Mid-Columbia off-peak prices at one point had gone as low as 50 cents/MWh, but by Friday had recovered to an average of around $19.20/MWh. Palo Verde led nighttime pricing in the West, trading Friday for about $26.30/MWh.

Peak demand on the Cal-ISO grid reached 29,263 MW Thursday afternoon. Demand should increase in the week ahead as temperatures climb throughout California. The system operator expects peak use to exceed 30,000 MW starting May 2 and to reach 32,520 MW May 4, according to the agency's forecast.

What's ahead: Seattle expects rainy weather and temperatures in the 50s until Wednesday, when skies begin clearing. Sunny weather in the 60s should last through Thursday. Portland's forecast is similar, but with temperatures expected to break the 70s Thursday.

Sunny, clear and dry conditions prevail in San Francisco through Thursday. Temperatures may reach the 80s in some areas. Warmer weather is forecast for Southern California starting Saturday and continuing into midweek. Cooling to seasonal norms should start May 5 or 6.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicts Pacific Northwest temperatures will stay below seasonal norms in May through July [Linda Dailey Paulson].

Western Electricity Prices
Week's End: April 25 - 29, 2011
Hub Peak (heavy) Off-peak (light)
Alberta Pool (C$) 12.58-67.62 8.34-29.92
Mid-Columbia 19-35 0.50-22.50
COB 24-37.25 5.50-20.50
NP 15* 30.25-40 n/a-n/a
SP 15* 32-43 10.75-21
Palo Verde 30.75-40.50 11.50-28.25

* 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.

Please contact with questions or comments about this site.

Contact Chris Raphael, editor with questions regarding Price Survey Content.

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