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Western Price Survey / Archives

May 4, 2001
Prices Plunge on Warm Weather

A high-pressure system moved across the Western region this week, bringing pleasant temperatures, lower power demand and increased snow melt that boosted reservoir levels and slightly increased hydroelectricity availability.

As a result, power prices fell by more than half across the West. That seems like a lot, given that prices began at about 350 mills/KWh on worries that the weather would be hotter and fewer generators would be on line than there were.

But, because of the absence of market turmoil or system emergencies this week, the operative word heard from around the region was "pleasant."

"There's a little more hydro, comfortable weather, low loads and enough plants on line," marveled one utility scheduler. What more could one ask?

Well, perhaps a little more precipitation as insurance, but for the first time since early January, the Bonneville Power Administration said it had excess power to sell. The 200 MW daytime block offer was priced at the Dow Jones' Mid-Columbia and COB firm index figures. The offer was pulled off the table for the coming Sunday and Monday, though.

There was little news to report out of California, that is no emergencies, as peak loads for the California Independent System Operator kept below 30,000 MW. Loads ran slightly ahead of projections but with moderate weather, the grid operator did not see problems on the horizon. Unplanned unit outages diminished noticeably and dropped below 5,000 MW. Planned maintenance figures were boosted to over 7,200 MW. Though the market started out high on concerns about the start of a refueling hiatus at Diablo Canyon, prices eased considerably as the week wore on. Mid-C was seen at 140 mills to 175 mills for peak and in the 100 mills to 110 mills/KWh range for off-peak for weekend packages. COB trailed at 145 mills peak and 100 mills/KWh off-peak. NP15 and SP15 cut that to 140 mills/KWh at peak and 75 mills to 80 mills/KWh of-peak.

Palo Verde was also at 135 mills to 150 mills/KWh in the day and in the 70 mills to 80 mills/KWh vicinity at night [Arthur O'Donnell].

Gas Has Nowhere to Go But Down

"There's not a whole lot of weather out there." That is gas trader talk for low demand and even lower prices, as the May doldrums hit Western markets.

Nationally, a steep drop in prices was triggered by a big boost to storage injection, but more locally, the driver was mild temperatures associated with a calm electric power market.

Border and basin prices all fell steadily. SoCal Topock was down nearly $2/MMBtu, ending the week at $12.80/MMBtu.

The gap between San Juan and Permian narrowed midweek, but then the New Mexico price slid to as low as $4.10, while the Texas price clung to $4.32/MMBtu. Both had been in the mid $4.60s earlier in the week.

Malin tumbled from $8.45 to $4.75/MMBtu Thursday, with a middle figure of $5/MMBtu heading into the weekend.

In Alberta, there was very little market activity reported and even less price movement. The AECO hub price stuck to $(C)6.07/Gigajoule most of the week before falling to $5.90/Gj [A. O'D.].

Western Electricity Prices
Week of April 30-May 4, 2001
Hub Peak (heavy) Off-peak (light)
Alberta Pool (C$) 97-245 56.7-73.4
Mid-Columbia 140-352 110-256
COB 145-349 100-250
NP 15 140-340 75-230
SP 15 140-340 70-157
Palo Verde 135-350 70-150

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 Shauna O'Donnell, editor with questions regarding Price Survey Content.

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