Western Price Survey
May 4, 2018
California renewable generation records continued falling throughout April based on a combination of installed capacity increases, plentiful solar and wind, and low seasonal demand.
The California Independent System Operator on April 28 set a new record of 72.7 percent for the instantaneous portion of demand served by renewables. This surpasses the previous 70.5 percent record, set Feb. 18.
On the same day, a new peak for maximum demand served by solar and wind was set, when 63.8 percent of load was met by those sources. Demand on the CAISO grid peaked at 28,466 MW May 3.
Total renewables on the CAISO grid reached 15,856 MW April 27, supplying roughly 58 percent of demand. There are now 21,893 MW of installed renewables on the CAISO grid.
Roughly 268 MW of solar generation came on line between January and April, according to the grid operator. More than 5. MW of wind and 350 kW of biofuel generation were also added over that time frame. Another 1,954.47 MW should come on line before year-end.
National natural gas storage refills started following three weeks of atypical withdrawal activity (see CEM No. 1485 ).
Working natural gas in storage was 1,343 Bcf as of April 27, according to U.S. Energy Information Administration estimates. This is a net increase of 62 Bcf compared to the previous week.
Storage levels are now 40.2 percent less than a year ago and 28.4 percent less than the five-year average.
Henry Hub natural gas spot prices dropped 12 cents, ending at $2.69/MMBtu in April 26 to May 3 trading.
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Among Western hubs, Alberta natural gas lost the most value in trading, down $1.42 to 12 cents/MMBtu. El Paso-Permian natural gas added 19 cents to reach $1.68/MMBtu.
Western peak power prices fell by as much as $13.65 by May 3. Palo Verde lost the most value, down $13.65 to $18.50/MWh.
Nighttime power values moved even lower. Mid-Columbia posted trades with no value on consecutive days; however, California-Oregon Border lost the most value in the trading period, down $12 to $7.25/MWh.
In April, average natural gas prices were less compared with 2017 (see “Price Trends,” next page). The average high price last month at Henry Hub was $2.84/MMBtu, 38 cents less than last year. Among Western gas hubs, PG&E CityGate lost 97 cents year over year, with an average high price of $2.41/MWh.
Average Western peak power prices in April were higher than in 2017 by between roughly $1.90 and as much as $5.85. South of Path 15 gained the most, up $5.85 year over year to $40.85/MWh. –Linda Dailey Paulson.
Archives of the Western Price Survey for the past year are also available online.
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