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Western Price Survey

Week's End Edition
April 30, 2010
With Plenty of Gas in Storage, Power Prices Fall

Spot prices for Western power tended to fall this week by a dollar or two as natural gas values also dipped. Prices showed some life on Friday, rising in anticipation of a higher demand pattern on Monday and a shot of warm weather in California.

The highest price for peak power in the West this week was reported at North of Path 15, which traded Monday at $38.08/MWh. But by Friday, average daytime prices at the hub fell to $37.73/MWh. The Mid-Columbia hub showed the steepest decline, finishing the week at an average of $32.65/MWh, off by more than $2/MWh.

The California-Oregon Border hub showed the only average improvement. Peak prices started the week at around $35.09 and ended at $36/MWh.

Peak demand on the Cal-ISO system remained tame, reaching a high mark of 28,331 MW on Monday, and losing steam as the week progressed.

Renewables Watch
Renewable energy in California saw strong contributions by both wind and geothermal sources throughout the week.

At peak, renewables provided close to 3,500 MW of power on Thursday, with 1,433 MW coming from wind, 1,075 MW from geothermal, and 356 MW from solar. Over a 24-hour period on Thursday, renewables provided about 11.8 percent of system power. The renewables information is provided by a new tool from Cal-ISO, available at www.caiso.com/green/renewrpt/DailyRenewablesWatch.pdf.

Natural Gas Markets
The U.S. Energy Information Administration reported that natural gas prices increased across the country the week ending Wednesday, April 28.

Spot prices increased due to chilly late spring weather. Futures contracts for Henry Hub ended trading for the week up 23 cents to $4.19/MMBtu on Wednesday.

But natural gas futures fell after the EIA reported that natural gas inventories gained 83 Bcf last week, with 1.9 Tcf of working gas in storage as of April 23. The amount is 18.8 percent greater than the five-year average, reported the EIA. It also is a record high for this time of year. By Friday, Henry Hub futures had dropped to $3.92, according to Bloomberg.

In the West, Malin and Southern California gas prices were the strongest among spot trades, posting highs of around $4.20/MMBtu (see chart).

Highs in other hubs stayed around $4, with Alberta at a low of $3.67, off about 50 cents compared with the other four hubs.

What's Ahead
On Monday, Los Angeles should see high temperatures of 85 °F, dipping to 71 by Friday as cloudy conditions cool off Southern California. San Francisco is expecting temperatures in the low 70s and mostly sunny conditions throughout the week. In the Pacific Northwest, Portland temperatures should move into the 60s and Seattle temperatures should reach the mid-60s by the weekend. Rain is predicted along the Northwest coast Monday and Tuesday, with more precipitation expected for the weekend [Linda Dailey Paulson].

Western Electricity Prices
Week's End: April 26 - 30, 2010
Hub Peak (heavy) Off-peak (light)
Alberta Pool (C$) 27.84-646.19 14.56-38.02
Mid-Columbia 27-35.75 24.50-31.50
COB 30.75-36.75 26-31
NP 15* 32.75-38.25 25.25-29
SP 15* 32-38 23.75-27.82
Palo Verde 31.25-36.75 22.25-27.50

* 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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