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Western Price Survey

Week's End Edition
May 4, 2007
Wholesale Power Prices Take Jump on Friday With Warm Weather Forecast

The California Department of Water Resources announced this week that the state's snowpack is an abysmal 29 percent of normal. The effect on this year's summer power prices may be tempered by the accompanying announcement that state reservoirs are about where they should be this year.

But next year could be a different story. "As we experience climate change and the resulting lower annual snowpacks, it is critical that we increase the amount of runoff captured by building additional water storage facilities," California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said in a statement on Tuesday.

This week's peak power prices started off strong in the state thanks to warmer-than-normal temperatures and two shut-down nuclear reactor units in the region. The 1,247 MW Unit No. 3 of the Palo Verde nuclear Generating Station finally came back on line Tuesday after a three-week unplanned maintenance outage. Meanwhile, the 1,087 MW Unit No. 1 of the Diablo Canyon nuclear plant went off line Tuesday for a scheduled refueling and maintenance outage.

South of Path 15 and North of Path 15 peak power spiked in Monday trading around 76 mills/kWh, dropped sharply through Thursday, then returned to 76 mills for Monday deliveries. Off-peak prices followed a similar roller-coaster ride, trading at around 48 mills/kWh Monday, shedding up to 10 mills by Thursday, and pushing a bit past 50 mills/kWh in Friday trading.

With 80-degree-plus weather forecast for the beginning of next week, Palo Verde prices for heavy power inched back into the mid-60 mills range in Friday trading after going as low as 51 mills/kWh on Thursday. The week's high of 69 mills/kWh came in Monday trading. Off-peak power in the area traded as low as 23.50 mills/kWh on Tuesday before bouncing back up to about 41 mills/kWh for Monday deliveries.

The hydro-rich Mid-Columbia region, which experienced stormy weather and cooler temperatures, had a volatile week. Peak values dropped almost 30 mills midweek from Monday's average value of 52 mills/kWh, plummeted to a low of 18 mills/kWh as reported by one exchange, then rose to around 40 mills/kWh for deliveries next Monday. Off-peak prices, at around 40 mills/kWh Monday, went on a Thursday crash diet and shed 20 mills, then sprang up to around 33 mills/kWh on Friday. Forecasts for the area are calling for drier weather early next week.

At the California-Oregon border, daytime power prices also tanked midweek, shedding 15 mills/kWh before rebounding to the low-60s range. Off-peak values shed about 10 mills Wednesday and Thursday before reaching an average of 44 mills/kWh in Friday trading.

Looking ahead, summer temperatures this year are expected to be warmer than normal across the nation, according to a host of forecasters [Charles Redell].

Storage Injection, Warm Weather Keep Natural Gas Prices Low

A U.S. Energy Information Administration report released Thursday indicated a second straight week of natural gas storage injections across the country. For the week ending last Thursday, the contiguous states gained 87 Bcf.

Prices dropped in tandem with the storage news and lower-priced weekend deliveries. Values at the Southern California border started at a high of $7.41/MMBtu Monday, dipped midweek, and regained just a little strength Friday, finishing at an average of $6.91/MMBtu.

Natural gas prices trailed off throughout the week at the Permian Basin, hitting a low of $6.63/MMBtu in Thursday trading after going as high as $7.20/MMBtu Monday, the warmest day of the week in the state.

In New Mexico, at the San Juan Basin, the low value of $6.33/MMBtu on Thursday was well below Monday's peak of $7.06/MMBtu. Trading there was mostly flat on Friday, with average prices for the day a few cents lower than Thursday.

The Malin, Ore. hub hit $7.35/MMBtu in Monday trading and a low of $6.90/MMBtu in Thursday trading. Average prices for the week, though, only dropped a bit more than 10c/MMBtu.

In Alberta, which is enjoying a comfortable snowpack, the low trade this week was $6.77/MMBtu. The high was $6.93/MMBtu [C. R.].

Western Electricity Prices
Week's End: April 30 - May 4, 2007
Hub Peak (heavy) Off-peak (light)
Alberta Pool (C$) 10.30-253.28 6.59-20.69
Mid-Columbia 18-55.50 17.50-45.50
COB 37-66 28-49
NP 15 57.25-76 37-52.25
SP 15 57.25-76.25 31.50-54
Palo Verde 51.50-69 23.50-46

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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